Mosaic Emotions

Article excerpt

The middle school years are a mosaic of emotions. Art educators acknowledge this sometimes difficult period and develop creative projects that stimulate, excite, and challenge this age group.

Seventh graders are hesitant to sketch themselves from observation, but if they know that the drawing just needs to be a facial generalization of contour areas, then the reluctance and fear of accurate realism evaporates into creativity. That's what happened in the Vientiane International School artroom when I asked a small class of seventh graders to create a self-portrait using mosaic.

A Variety of Styles and Media

We began by looking at mosaic samples from pictures of Emperor Justinian to Tiger Woods on the cover of Sports Illustrated. We discussed methods and viewed other self-portraits in various media such as monochromatic neutrals in torn paper collage, brilliantly painted complementary portraits found in gallery brochures, and museum prints from teacher's resources.

Students practiced placing facial features by using 5 x 8" (13 x 20 cm) mirrors and scrap paper. By squinting, a favorite drawing aid, the students could see the separated planes of the face due to shading or highlighting. They segmented these lightly in pencil on the 18 x 24" (46 x 61 cm) watercolor paper.

Next, they arranged the bits and pieces, some traditionally, leaving paper spaces in-between the tesserae; some overlapping using graduated color and the white of the paper edges to create a form-like portrait. …