Wow. If you could have seen me trampling over stools and tables at the end of our classes last week, frantically trying to get a quick snap of these beauties before they were swept away into trunks of cars, and raced like precious cargo straight to the frame shop! We were sooo in love with these!
This project was inspired by contemporary artist Sandra Silberzweig – an artist we first discovered a few years ago while ogling over an art teacher’s blog (apologies to who that was, I tried to find it but can’t remember!!) -it’s been on our “to do” list for a few years and I have to shout to all the art teachers out there who might be reading this, you can literally teach this to kids age 4 to 99 and each and every single one of them will be a “sure thing” – absolutely stunning!
Before blending the chalk.
We used a favorite medium and process – layers and layers (and more layers) of chalk pastel mixed with a little oil pastel on heavy black poster board. We first studied Sandra’s work, noticing how all the features were “connected” and then instructed them with a simple shape to get going.
Just noticed a little cryptic message in this one ^^
Drawing with a white China Marker, the instruction needed from us was pretty simple. We started with the U for the chin, the neck, then the enclosed “candy cane nose”, the other eyebrow, and then their mouth attached to their nose & chin with a line. The eyes were absolutely key so we really studied her style there. We intentionally didn’t want to show the whole face in the frame, so we started by drawing open almond shapes then a line for the lid, and upside down rainbows for the iris. They filled in their portrait with unusual lines & shapes (don’t settle for a boring zigzag!), then layered and blended warm chalk pastels on one side of the face, and cool on the other. We encouraged them to mix colors from the same palette on top of one another (and not to mix cool with warm), resulting in a very deep, rich tone. They chose a part of the eye to color with white, and then lastly traced back over most lines with a black oil pastel. Ta da!
I’ve done Sandra Silberzweig inspired portraits before. But I think the large scale of these on black poster board gives these such a Fantastic dramatic impact. They are all gorgeous and definitely frameworthy!
Thanks Mary! Maybe it was your blog where we originally discovered her! ~Jennifer
Thank you Mary!
These are amazing! So dramatic. Can’t wait to try these with my students.
I am very impressed…the children did a wonderful job!
Thank you Sandra – we are huge fans of your art!! We’re a little giddy that you liked these!! 🙂
love! love! love! If you chose to feature my artwork again, email me to keep me in the loop, would love to see 🙂 Silberzweig.art@Hotmail.com
Hi- I love these. I am trying it out before I teach the kids.
1. I am having trouble getting the bright colors on black posterboard.
2.Did you spray fixative between layers?
3.. Did you use any special kind of chalk pastel? I am using Blick.
4. At what point did you use oil pastel?
Thanks so much!
Thanks! Students drew the lines with a white china marker (you could use a white oil pastel) – the chalk “sticks” to it, making it easy to see the lines. Then we only used black oil pastel at the very end to trace back over the lines after coloring with chalk. Not sure why you’re not getting the vibrancy w/ the chalk – we have used Blick but mostly use Prismacolor chalk, and we have the kids LAYER the color and we don’t let them get rid of any dust along the way – just let the dust build up in piles and then keep layering more colors of chalk, and then at the very end we show them how to blend with one finger in tiny circles, “pressing” the chalk dust into the paper. We also usually use a heavyweight 6 ply poster board with quite a “tooth”. But you could use a good quality construction paper as well. If that doesn’t work I’m going to guess it’s the chalk you’re using! 🙂 There is a lot of awful chalk out there that has no pigment and just turns to dust. Good luck! ~Jennifer
Thanks so much. I will try all of the above to see how to improve the color. The poster board I used had no tooth, so I bet that is the problem.
These are fantastic as is Sandra Silberzweig… I am so excited to discover her! could you break down your step by step production of these as they seem to have been led by a great tutorial…the noses, eyes. mouths, faces and necks have some similarities. thanks… cant wait to do this with the kids!
Thanks Linda! If you scroll down through the pics we included a description of how we taught this project, materials used, etc. Have fun trying it – it’s a huge hit, regardless of age! Plus we observed and discussed examples of her portraits that served ast the inspiration. Thanks ~ Jennifer
I’ve just started these with 2 of my Year 7 classes. The kids love Sandra Silberzweig’s work and we are really impressed with your children’s art. Love the fact that we can share work across the world! Thank you so much.
I’m totally crazy about these portraits…OMG…
These are wonderful! Thank you for the instructions and great details and photos. You called these “Self portraits”. Were there any special instructions for making them “SELF portraits”, of the kids rather than simply “portraits”? Thanks so much!
I am doing this with my middle schoolers only we will use oil pastels. It works great! Thank you for the inspiration.
These are amazing! I have 11 yr old triplets and a 12 yr old. All of my girls love art time. This will be a great project! I too am excited to do one.
I am doing these portraits with my first graders and they are loving these. We are in the early stages of it but when they are done I would love to share them.
Oh please do! Are you on instagram?
Hi from Germany. We did this project today with amazing results! Thanks for this great inspirations!
(9-11 years old)
Oh that’s no nice to hear! It’s a “no fail”!