“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction.”
Pixel Portraits In Progress
The Project Too Ambitious to Be Finished
As much as I’d like to have a set (aka repetitive) curriculum in place, that’s not how I operate. Sure it would be stable and less work, but I need variety! So I test new ideas and projects out on my students. The caveat being some projects have unpleasant surprises – the pixels portrait’s being how much time it was taking.
The Set Up
I designed this project to delve deeply into color mixing and matching. Here are the basic steps to get everyone on the same page:
- I took each student’s portrait, pixelated them in Gimp, printed them out, and laminated them.
- To speed the process, I also sketched the gridlines on the canvas for the students and protected the grid with clear gesso.
- The students applied tape to various matching squares on their printout and canvas to keep everything in the right spot. *Even when I asked the students to count twice and start from the same square every time when counting, nearly every student miscounted. Double check, double check, double check!
- They then started mixing colors, checking them to the printout, and painting them onto the corresponding spot. The laminating made it easy to wipe mismatched colors away quickly and easily.
These are the only colors I allowed (and all that was needed):
- Titanium White
- Cadmium Yellow
- Yellow Ochre
- Burnt Sienna
- Cadmium Red
- Ultramarine Blue
How to Color Match
There are many right ways to mix color, but I wanted the students to develop a consistent workflow so I set up this pattern:
- Pick the nearest color on your palette.
- Match the value.
- Adjust the color.
- Adjust the temperature. (Actually done at the same time as step three.)
Anytime a student was struggling I asked the same questions in the same order. What color are you seeing? Is this paint the same value . . . does it need to be lighter or darker? Now does the color lean towards red, blue, or yellow? What is the temperature?
Where We Stand
Can You Tell Who is Who?
So we didn’t finish. So we were only completing about 15 squares an hour (out of about 250). So we may never finish.
Was it a bad project?
This exercise mimics the color chart practice recommended by Richard Schmid (one of my favorite artists and an incredible teacher).
I cannot emphasize enough how much the students learned and are still learning. They grew much more comfortable with getting the color they wanted. They got much faster. And they started to learn color relationships better.
Another Lesson Learned
Painting is Exhausting
Let my get up on my soapbox for a minute and extoll the virtues of painting for everyone! There are so many decisions to painting from color, values, tone, edges, contrast, warm and cool, etc that the mind gets a hefty workout. Color mixing is so mentally taxing that a two-hour class is a smidge too long. . . by the end of class, I could see my students wane and their decision making skills falter.
A tired student is a great success!
Because of how long this excercise was taking, I began helping the students on their outside pixels. I made sure their focus was on the skin-tones as I helped with the edges.
Exciting Projects on the Horizon