Thursday, September 29, 2011

George Catlin's Native Portraits!

Cheers to my wonderful fifth graders! They're so excited to be at the "top of the school", coming in ready and eager for those "big kid" projects they saw the previous two years in my room.  They too get to start with a cultural art project.  I try to do portraits first, as they are the most willing to try the "hard stuff" in the beginning of the year. This time it is a three-quarter view portrait using the artist George Catlin for inspiration. 

Past years I've done Egyptian Gods & Goddesses, self portraits, Modigliani inspired, and even "Wanted" posters.  I'm using Catlin this time in the hopes to have this hanging in the board office for Thanksgiving. Plus, they look Stunning! There are just so many options for "accessories" to jazz it up !

We started by critiquing and discussing works of art by George Catlin. We discussed Native American history, and tribal cultures and religion.  Then we went ahead and drew our three quarter view, outlining it in sharpie. They had pictures of Catlin's work at their tables to use as they drew all the "accessories". The beads, hair styles, clothing, tribal body paint all came from Catlin's artwork.

We discussed how to add a shadow to a portrait, and using oil pastel blended in skin tone colors with a shadow to make it more "realistic".  They colored the rest of the body in with pastel and used chalk for the background. The only stipulations for the background I had were that it was monochromatic and softly blended. This makes the portrait "pop". 

Lastly, was PUFFY PAINT! Wahoo! They love that stuff! Of course, you have to be careful not to over do it.  I had glittery puffy glue that they could use to make one feature stand out more. They could only use a little and they were able to do it on their own. Straight to the drying rack it went after that!

 I am so proud of my fifth graders!


  1. I really like these! Do you mind if I pin them on pinterest? I think others would like to do them! Nice work!

  2. Thank you! It was a moment of inspiration while searching for a good Native American project with a twist on portraiture! You know how they get nervous drawing themselves at that age- so why not draw someone else!

    Please feel free to pin it :)