Portrait Heads in Paper

Background Information
This project allows students to use their imaginations and problem-solving skills while learning to manipulate paper. They are also challenged to perceive and create value differences and variety using a one-color material.

  • value
  • scoring
  • accordion-fold
  • curling
  • form
  • variety
  • portrait
Show students portraits by such people as Amedeo Modigliani, Fernando Botero, Frederick Remington, and Red Grooms to demonstrate different ways that artists perceive the human face. Show students how to score paper to control folds, and demonstrate various techniques such as curling strips around a pencil, cutting spirals, curling on the edge of scissors, and fringing. They can also be shown how to make the crown of a hat to fit within a brim.

A walk around the room to look at other people's solutions to a problem may help students arrive at a new approach. These "gallery walks" can help every student work at a higher level. Assure them that through the ages artists have been inspired by the work of their fellow artists, and that the originator of the idea should be honored to have inspired someone else.

  • Make copies of the Portrait Heads in Paper student page.
  • Distribute them to all students.
  • Go over the directions with the students.
Interdisciplinary Connections

Language Arts
  • Give It a Life
    Students can make up an adventure story or biography about their portrait head. They can give it a name, write about where it lives, what kind of work it does, what its favorite quotation is, and something else about its lifestyle.
Social Studies
  • Real People Portraits
    These paper faces could be based on real people from the past or present, such as colonial leaders, presidents, royalty, world leaders, or famous inventors. Hats and collars might give clues to a personality even though it will be difficult to have a likeness. The face could be displayed next to a research paper about this particular person.

Excerpted from A Survival Kit for the Elementary/Middle School Art Teacher.

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