Impressionist Portraits

Level: Middle School

Duration: Five 45-minute class periods

Historical Overview: Mary Cassat (1844-1926), American Impressionism and Portraits

Goals and Objectives: To introduce use of pastel medium. To teach accurate proportions for profile, frontal, and ¾ views. To teach shading and blending methods in order to create 3-d effects on the face.

Vocabulary: Portraiture, Impressionism, pastels, shading, blending, profile, frontal view

Materials: Pastels, blending tools, construction paper

Procedures:

Day 1

  1. Anticipatory Set: Show posters and books of portraits by artist Mary Cassat.
  2. Slide lecture on history of Impressionism.
  3. Class discussion on artist Mary Cassat.
  4. Review color wheel.
  5. Review vocabulary.
  6. Demonstrate drawing a sketch and basic frontal view proportions.
  7. Students follow along step-by-step.

Day 2

  1. Demonstrate drawing a sketch and basic proportions for a profile.
  2. Students follow along step-by-step.
  3. Students experiment with pastels for shadows and background.

Day 3

  1. Demonstrate drawing a sketch and basic ¾-view proportions.
  2. Students follow along step-by-step.
  3. Students experiment with pastels for shadows and background.

Day 4

  1. Demonstrates how to set up pastel palette and mix colors.
  2. Students set up palettes.
  3. Students are paired off in class and draw one another, consciously choosing their view.
  4. Students transfer sketch onto good paper.
  5. Students use pastels and experiment with techniques to create a background that  describes the sitter.

Day 5

  1. Students decide which is their best portrait.
  2. Students critique one another’s work.

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