Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Self-portraits: My two selves

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) painted this self portrait, while looking in a mirror, when he was only 15. What can you tell about the teenager in this painting? What can you tell about him from his clothing and hair style? What about the expression on his face? Are the colors in the picture cool or warm?

In 1895, when he was 14 years old, Picasso’s 8 year old sister became very ill. His mother told him to pray for his sister because she might die. That night when he said his prayers, he promised God that if He would only let his sister live, Picasso would give up the things that he loved the most. He promised God that he would never draw or paint again if only Conchita could live. When Conchita died, 14 year old Picasso felt that it was his own fault. But he also felt that God wanted him to continue to create art. Picasso drew this picture of Conchita when she was eight and he was 14, before she became ill. You can see the thoughtful, serious expression of a young man who has known pain when you look at the 15 year old Picasso’s self portrait. His clothes and hair show a well taken care of teen but his expression is thoughtful and sad.

This is another self portrait by Picasso. He painted it in 1901, when he was 19. What do you notice about the young man in this picture? What colors did he use? What do you notice about the expression on his face? What might have happened to cause Picasso to feel this way?

Pablo Picasso created this memorial painting, The Death of Casagemas, in 1901 in Paris, when he was 19. Casagemas had been Picasso’s best friend. They had travelled to Paris together with the ambition of becoming famous artist but times were difficult. Their apartment was cold and drafty and they did not have enough money for food. Notice the hollow cheeks in the blue self portrait in the previous slide. Casagemas fell in love with a beautiful girl but she did not care for him and liked Picasso instead. In despair, Csagemas killed himself. Once again, Picasso felt that he was responsible for the death of a loved one. The blue pallor of Picasso’s skin and grim look on his face reflect his feelings. The portrait depicts a man who has lost his best friend.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painted this self portrait in 1887.

Van Gogh painted this self portrait in 1889. Ten years after Van Gogh’s death Picasso saw his paintings in Paris. Van Gogh’s paintings were revolutionary. He was the first painter to use color to express emotion.

Van Gogh painted this self portrait shortly after the blue one. Compare the serious, sad thoughtful look in his eyes to Picasso’s 15 year old painting.

This is a self portrait by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.  Notice how she emphasizes her eyebrows in this picture. What does the shape of her eyebrows look like? She painted her eyebrows in the shape of a bird on purpose. She was disabled in a very bad bus accident as a young woman and drew her eyebrows like that to symbolize her dream of being, like a bird, free from disability and pain. Because of this accident she was also unable to have children. Every time she got pregnant she miscarried. She kept many pets, including these spider monkeys. She loved them and took good care of them. To her they symbolized the children she could never have.

Here is another self portrait by the same artist.

 Here is a self portrait I created when I was 19

Here is a self portrait I created when I was 24

Below is a slide presentation of the pictures you just saw for easy classroom viewing:

After reflecting upon the ways self-portraits can express various feelings, take a look in the mirror and create your own self-portraits. Watch the film below for some tips for drawing faces:

Using a dry eraser marker and a piece of plastic, try closing one eye and practice tracing the features of a friend's face.

Next, use a mirror and try to trace the features of your own face. Practice making different facial expressions with your mouth and eyebrows to express different emotions.

You can see by the self portraits of the artists that I have shown here that the same person can look completely different depending on how they are feeling and what they are going through in their lives. The assignment below was inspired by a lesson written by Eric Gibbons called 'My evil twin.' To see Mr. Gibbons lesson please click here.

You will be folding your paper in half and creating two self-portraits. One will be you and the other will be your 'evil twin' or 'other self' . Change the coloring of the portrait and the facial expressions on the second self portrait to clearly show your audience which twin is evil. When you are done drawing and coloring your picture, follow the directions below to create a story to go with your artwork:

Person, Place and Problem
My evil twin
Your story’s main character will be loosely based on you. That means that it will be written in the first person (using the pronoun ‘I’). The character can be older or younger than you, even grown up. They can have a completely different life than you. They may also have a different name than you. But their personality and how they would act in imaginary situations should be based on you. They must be human.
Your story must have a setting. It could be anywhere, real or imaginary, past, present or future.
Your character must have an evil twin that tries to ruin his or her life by pretending to be them. Be as original and creative as possible. What are some ways an evil twin could potentially cause you problems?
The ‘twin’ does not need to be related to the main character. They merely have to look identical to them. They could be an actual twin, a clone, a cyborg, a time traveler, a relative or just a doppelganger. However they must be able to get away with impersonating the main character, at least for a while.
How does the main character try to solve their problem? Does anyone believe them? Can they expose the evil twin?
Your story must end in a cliffhanger. Think of the season finale of your favorite TV show, where you have to wait until next season to find out how it ends. Keep your readers interested. Does your main character get the happy ending they deserve? Or is all lost? Keep your audience guessing.
Be as creative and original as possible. Have fun. If you finish early, try retelling the story from the evil twin’s perspective

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Six Ways to make your artwork look three dimensional

The six ways to make your artwork look three dimensional

1) Overlapping (Objects in front partially hiding objects in back).

 2) Shading (Shading gives an object a sense of three dimensional volume)

3) Placement in relation to the horizon line (Objects below your eye level look farther away if the bottom edge of the object sits higher on the page)

4) Size (If two objects are the same size, the one farther away will appear smaller)

5) Value and focus (atmospheric perspective) Draw far away objects more lightly, use more faded color and use less detail

To learn more about atmospheric perspective, please click here and here.

6) Linear Perspective (Lines appear to converge as they go off into the distance, meeting at a vanishing point on the horizon line)

To learn more about one point linear perspective, please click here, here, here and here.
To learn more about two point perspective, please click here.

Below is a time lapse video of me, drawing a landscape using two point perspective. How many of the 'six ways to make your artwork look three dimensional' can you identify in this video?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Draw a Geometric Still Life by Playing With Blocks

Geometric still life

 Watch my video on drawing cubes and rectangular solids:

Practice drawing cubes using the video and step by step worksheet.

Start out by arranging the blocks so that they overlap each other on the table. Draw the top and sides of the blocks with the forms in front lower on the page than the forms in the back. To make things easier we will all assume that the light source is off the edge of the page at the upper left. So let's make the right side of each form darker. Then add a cast shadow on the table.  Watch the video below before you start. Your 3D drawings will get better with practice.

Now it's time to play with blocks. Each table will get a small set of wooden blocks, two plastic bugs and two toy cars. You are going to have to both draw and write a story about whatever you build with the blocks so be as creative and imaginative as possible.

Protagonist, place and problem
Your story must be original (but is okay to be inspired by a movie, video game or book).
Your story must have a protagonist (main character) based on YOU. You need to add details that get your readers to identify with and like your hero. Are they brave? Are they resourceful? Are they smart? Are they loyal? Show them having traits that you value in yourself and in your friends.
Your story must have a place (setting) based on whatever you and your classmates at your table can build with the blocks. This could be a castle, mansion, city or any other place you can invent using blocks.
Your main character must have a problem. The problem must be potentially disastrous or life threatening. That problem can include giant bugs but it doesn’t have to.  Your character can even BE one of the giant bugs. A giant bug could be your pet or help you escape or fight a battle. Look beyond the obvious.
At some point in the story the problem must seem insurmountable. Draw your readers in and get them worried.
Your story must end in a cliff hanger, with the reader forever wondering if the hero managed to get the happy ending they deserve.

Check out this short clip from the Disney film, Honey I Shurnk the Kids:

The characters are obviously all brave (they took on a giant scorpion) and they are obviously loyal (they didn't abandon each other or their friend the ant). The movie doesn't tell you that the kids are brave and loyal. It shows you and makes you feel it by portraying their actions. 

Did you notice the giant Lego piece in this scene? Imagine you are very small and the blocks, cars and bugs you are playing with are very large. Imagine details on the buildings. Be inventive. 

Ready to add details? Here is a helpful tip: 
When drawing anything in one point perspective, first envision the 'box it came in', then draw the object as if it were inside that one point perspective box.

Need to draw a cylindrical form? The video below illustrates how to first draw a box and then convert it to a cylinder. Select one face of your box and draw a dot in the middle of each side. Next, connect the dots with an elliptical shape. Round forms look elliptical when they are angled away from you in space. If you are drawing a round tower, keep in mind that objects above the horizon appear to curve up, since they are above your eye level. Round objects below your eye level, and thus below the horizon, appear to curve down, as depicted in the video below.

No paintings remind me more of a child's imaginary block cities than those of Giorgio de Chirico. He used one point perspective to create surreal imaginary worlds, filled with simplified buildings that look as if they might have been built from wooden blocks.

Mystery and Melancholy of a Street

Italian Piazza

Italian Plaza With a Red Tower

Melancholy of a Beautiful Day

Piazza d’Italia

Plaza Italia (Great Game)

The Disquieting Muses

The Enigma of the Arrival and the Afternoon

The Great Tower

The House in the House

The Nostalgia of the Infinite

The Great Metaphysician