Celestial Self Portraits

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This lesson was born when I saw some metallic spray paint for sale in our art department supply catalog. Intrigued by the shimmery luster of the gold, copper and silver hues, I thought, “hmmm, what cool lesson could I do with this?”, and the idea for these Celestial Self Portraits popped in to my head!

The 18″ by 24″  “base” piece was created with star/planet cardboard cut-outs on dark paper. The metallic spray paint was sprayed around the shapes, and we also spritzed some watered-down white tempera paint for an additional star-effect. When the base piece was dry, we used a 17″ circle template to mark and cut out a desired area.

Each student then posed for a close-up “star gazing” photo. Using a light table, students traced their printed 8″ by 10″ photo onto white paper, creating a simplified outline. That outline was then transferred onto the background circle, using white Scratch Art Brand transfer paper. (In most cases, students needed to work the transferred lines a bit bolder with a white Prismacolor pencil.)

Next, each student created a one-color “Glow” around their heads/bodies using a Prismacolor pencil. (This brand is superior for coloring on dark paper!) They practiced controlling the value of a colored pencil, (range of lights and darks) by shading a comet or shooting star shape first. This exercise gave them the opportunity to refine their ability to smoothly apply the pencil with a varying range of pressure prior to creating the “Glow” on their actual project.

Last but not least, students were given a variety of options for embellishing their backgrounds, including adding shooting stars, galaxies, and quotes,  or by enhancing the existing stenciled shapes with metallic pen, glitter glue, or colored pencil.

The results were simply “out of this world”!



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