Half Portrait


This lesson was so successful the first time, that I decided to bring it back again this year as an introduction to drawing the human face. First students practiced and developed skills to identify and map out guidelines for correct facial proportions. Next they learned shading techniques to create values ranging from the darkest shadows to the brightest highlights. All of this was done with a regular #2 pencil!


Portraits were selected from magazines and cut so that students had to draw at least half of the face. The original picture was also limited to the torso or shoulders up (no full body images), and needed to fill the whole page. This allowed students to focus on drawing the face.


While many students searched through magazines to find an interesting or inspiring image, I provided photocopies of a few local Kauai surf heroes to choose from as well. Pictured above are Alana Blanchard and Leila Hurst, while the bottom images include Sebastian Zietz and Andy Irons. Other local surfing professionals included Dustin Barca, Bethany Hamilton, Malia Manuel and Evan Valiere.


Students really seemed to enjoy this lesson, and several students chose to draw more than one. I may bring this lesson back in the future with a different photo inspiration, like a “selfie”!




The first project of the 2014-2015 year for Kapa’a Middle School’s art students was to create a mandala design that would also be used for their sketchbook covers. This multimedia lesson served as an introduction to radial symmetry and repetition of line and shape.


The underlying colorful circles were created by brushing liquid watercolor onto a paper spinning on the pottery wheel. Although it isn’t clay, this gave students an opportunity to use their all-time favorite tool!


Starting from the center, bands of watercolor were applied until students reached the outer edge of the paper. Students also created interesting streak and drip affects by blowing the wet paint through a straw while the wheel was spinning.


Once the watercolor paint was dry, students used colored pencils to draw a mandala on top of the colorful background. Tools such as rulers, compasses, and circular objects helped to create accurate lines and spacing.


Students also enjoyed learning about the symbolism, history, and cultural practice of mandala creations. They were especially fascinated by Tibetan sand mandalas, and puzzled about why the artists would eventually destroy the intricate design they so painstakingly created.


Finally, students incorporated inspirational quotes or affirmations to inspire them every time they look back on their mandala design.