Renaissance Painter: Leonardo Da Vinci

Woman's Head Study

Mona Lisa

Post-Impressionist Painter: Vincent Van Gogh

Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear

Cubist Painter: Pablo Picasso

Woman with a Blue Hat

Lecture (Woman Reading

Portraits to Make a Statement
Some artists create art that makes a statement about events or ideas that mean a lot to them. Art can make people think about war, poverty, racism, violence, and oppression. Portraits are one art form that artists use to give a message about important issues. A portrait can tell you more than how someone looked or lived. What do the portraits below make you think about?

Dorothea Lange’s photographs showed the world how people were
suffering during the Great Depression. This photograph was published in a news story which made people aware of the hardships migrant workers suffered. As a result, the U.S. government rushed the workers food and set up relief programs.

Jose Clemente Orozco

was a Mexican painter. His murals showed social struggles and violence of mankind. He lived during the Mexican Revolution and was very involved in the politics of the time.

Berthe Morisot painted this portrait of
her sister at her baby’s cradle. What ideas do you think she wants you to think about? It is interesting that this sister was also a promising painter but gave up painting to raise a family, as was the custom at that time. Berthe Morisot, however, rebelled against the traditional role of women in the late 1800’s and became a successful Impressionist painter. Does knowing this make you look at this portrait differently?

Mary Cassatt
was another woman who, against the traditions of her times, became a successful Impressionist painter. She was most famous for her ability to create portraits that showed the everyday lives and tasks of women—topics that had never before been thought of as worthy of great art.

1. Think about how artists use color to show meaning in their art works. What color symbols could you use or invent to tell people about yourself? Draw a self portrait and include several colors that symbolize something about you! Here is Carmine Chameleon's self portrait. Carmine colored himself red because he loves the color carmine red. He shows lots of green grass because spring is his favorite time of the year. The rainbow in the background symbolizes all of the colors Carmine can be. 2. Some artists tell people about their symbols. Other artists keep them a secret and let people guess about the meaning of their art.

Some artists make portraits that do not show what the subject looked like physically. Portraits can be abstract and may have symbols that tell you about the person. One such artist who created abstract, symbolic portraits was

Giuseppe Arcimboldo.
He painted many portraits about ideas such as the seasons, fire, air, and the earth, using everyday objects to show the parts of the face.

Now create a portrait that makes a statement about an idea that is important to you. Brainstorm a list of ideas that you could communicate with a portrait. Many artists have used their art to make people think about war, poverty, racism, violence, and oppression. Other artists, like Morisot and Cassatt, used portraits to show and celebrate motherhood. You may want to focus on a personal experience. Think about what you want your artwork to do. Do you want people to become aware of a problem? Do you want to urge people to act in a certain way? Will people need to have more information about your idea than they get just by looking at your artwork? You can include a descriptive title or even write a short paragraph about your art work.

Technique Demonstration: Face Proportions (Front View)
Many artists want to make realistic portraits that show how someone looks. To do this, you have to learn about face proportion. Are you ready? We’ll start with a front view.

1. HEAD. Draw a large head shape on your paper.

2. EYES. Eyes are halfway down the face. So use your ruler to divide your head in half with a horizontal line. Draw lightly (you may want to erase it later).

This will look a little alien until you add eyebrows and hair. But don't draw the eyes too high!

If you look at someone face on, they will have room for five eyes across the front of their face! You can divide the horizontal line into five equal spaces to figure out how big to make the eyes.

Now draw the eye shapes—you can draw five to start with to help you remember the size and spacing.

3. NOSE. The size of the nose depends on the person. The bottom of the nose is often as wide as the inside corners of the eyes. So you can draw two lines down from the inside corners of the eyes. Usually, the bottom of the nose is halfway between the eye line and the bottom of the chin.

Now you have a "nose box"—draw the nose!

4. MOUTH. Draw another line half way between the nose and the chin.

Mouths are right above this line. The width of the mouth depends on the person’s expression. But the corners of a relaxed mouth line up with the middle of the eye. Draw two vertical lines down from the pupils of the eye.

Now draw the mouth!

5. EARS. Ears are bigger than many people think! They stretch from the eyes to below the nose. Use the horizontal line you first drew for the eyes to line up the top of the ears. They will end between the bottom of the nose and the mouth.

6. EYEBROWS. Eyebrows tell a lot about a person’s mood. They come in all different sizes and shapes (and some people pluck them out!) A gentle arch over the eyes should do for a relaxed face.

7. NECK. Most people draw the neck too thin. A head weighs eight pounds so necks are big and strong! Start at the ears and gently curve in then out again.

8. SHOULDERS. If you have room on your paper you can draw shoulders or part of the shoulders. We actually have room for three heads on our shoulders! Make the shoulders wide enough so you could fit another head on each shoulder.

9. HAIR. Last but not least, HAIR! You could stop now if your subject has no hair. But if he or she does, remember where the hairline is.

What's Wrong with these Portraits?

What's Wrong with these Portraits?

Mouth is too low

Hairline too high

Ears too big

Nose is shaped incorrectly

Nose is too small

Head is round, not egg-shaped

Eyes too high, so chin too big

Eyes too small

Using colored pencils, lightly shade in the color of the person's skin. (IMPORTANT: Use the side of the pencil, not the sharp tip, for shading.) Using the same color, press harder and shade darker where there are shadows in the face. Mostly these are beneath the eyebrows, nose, and cheekbones. Try to keep the blending from light to dark very smooth. Begin coloring hair and clothing the same way you colored the face, shading with the side of your pencils. Check your coloring by looking at the whole face. If anything looks like it's flat, it may be because the shadows aren't dark enough, or the blending isn't smooth. Add detail with the colored pencils. Eyebrows, eyelashes, and the color of the eyes are good details to draw with the tip of the pencil.

Coloring Your Portrait
Here are some ideas for adding color to your portrait. After you have drawn a portrait, you may want to add color. There are many different ways to finish your portrait. Here are just a few:

Here’s what to do: Use your watercolors to paint washes of color over the larger areas of your portrait (the hair, skin, background). Let your paint dry before going on. Now add details, patterns and textures with any medium you want. You could use thread, wool, beads, leaves, etc. Dry thoroughly and then press under some heavy books to flatten.