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

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Saturday, November 20, 2010


The handout below shows the basic proportions of the human face. Notice that the eyes are in the middle, not the top of the head. The person looks like an egg head because the hair is missing. Most students, prior to instruction, place the eyes and the hair too far up on the head.

This excellent video explains how knowledge of proportion is the first step towards being able to draw portraits.

I downloaded the brief excerpt above from the television show "James May's Man Lab" Series 2 Episode 1. You can view the complete episode by clicking on this link:

Basic proportions of the human face

Look through magazines or the Internet to find photographs of people to draw.

Face turned 3/4 view

Sixth grade faces drawn using the 'Face turned 3/4 view' handout 

Pencil drawing by a 6th grade boy

Pencil drawing by a 6th grade boy

Pencil drawing by a 6th grade boy

Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

Now that you've drawn realistic faces it's time to experiment with cartoon faces. Try using exaguration and distortion as an expressive tool.

Self portrait with masks 
James Ensor 1899

Caricatures and doodles on a blotter used at a Transit of Venus Committee meeting at the Royal Society in 1882. Individuals identified include (left to right): Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, third Marquess of Salisbury, prime minister; George Carey Foster, chemist and physicist; Alexander William Williamson, chemist; Sir William Henry Mahoney Christie, astronomer; Warren de la Rue, chemist and astronomer; Thomas Henry Huxley, biologist; John Ball, glaciologist; Sir George Gabriel Stokes, physicist; and William Grylls Adams, scientist
Downloaded from:

From the sketchbook of  Edgar Degas

Orchestra of the Opera, 1869, by Edgar Degas


A Face In The Crowd from Rachel Wintemberg on Vimeo.
Drawings and animations by McGinnis School students.
Inventory of facial expressions by a 6th grade student

Crowd of people by a 7th grade student

Crowd of People by 6th grade student

Crowd of People by 6th grade student

Crowd of people by 5th grade student

Click here to visit About.com for a free drawing lesson on portraiture (how to draw faces). Very detailed and informative with pictures showing every step.

Click here to visit the website of the National Portrait Gallery in London

Click here to visit the website of the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. There are portraits here of every single US president and many other famous Americans.

Since it's a bit confusing  to navigate the (US) National Portrait Gallery's website I have added this direct link to their collections search.

For more lessons on faces please refer to my other posts;

Face shading the 3/4 turned head step by step

Below are two pictures, by the artist William Hogarth, of crowds of people

Related art lessons:
Click on the link below to see my article on combining this 'crowd of people' art lesson with iPad technology in the classroom:

To see an excellent tutorial, by another artist, on creating quick sketches of the human head, click on the link below:

To read the free online ebook, The Group Portrature of Holland, available through the Getty Foundation Virtual Library, click on the link below:

I modified the video above to include these hilarious scenes from the movie 'Napoleon Dynamite'. All Napoleon really needed was a few art lessons on proportion.

Try to draw Trisha yourself and see what happens. Now that you have had some instruction can you do better than Napoleon did? Can you identify the mistakes in his picture that you can avoid in your own portraits?

Napoleon's Portrait of Trisha:

Print out these half-face drawings of Trisha and see if you can complete the other half of the face.  Add shadows to make it look realistic but whatever you do, don't spend three hours trying to shade her upper lip.

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