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100 Faces: A Summer Goal

Posted on Saturday, July 2, 2011 in Art, Summer



It’s true I just posted something not too long ago about being a relaxed, non-homeschooling mama over the summer. But even as I wrote it I knew that too many days in our house  + our number of children(4)  + their ages (2, 6, 8, 10) + no goals for the day would = a dead end of bickering.

And so it has.

Introducing the first goal imported into our summer: 100 Faces.

Toward the end of the school year I happened across an art book that got my creative energy whizzing. I tucked the excitement away until summer.

Drawing Lab: 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun is a goldmine of art projects which require pretty basic art supplies and a willingness to get loose.  Most of the exercises are designed to break the artist out of rigid perfectionism and just, well, in some cases scribble. But scribble with a goal!

For example, the first exercise in the book is “Drawing Cats in Bed” and you literally get cozy in your bed and start drawing cats.  There are ideas for drawing from clay, creating from ink blots, and using the cracks in the sidewalk to find the shape of your drawing.

If all that sounds too abstract or vague-it’s not.  Each project has clear guidelines.  I’m telling you, check this book out.

Before I get to the summer goal, here’s an example of another project inspired from this book (completed before school ended).  We wrote poems about dreams and decorated with journal page with the exercise on page 30 in Drawing Lab.  First you paint various blobs and lines with three colors and then you look for shapes within the colors and trace them with a fine tip permanent marker. The style fit well with the dream theme.

I have one particular child (the 8 year old, nickname Jellyfish) who loves to draw and loves to draw perfectly, the first time. She even believes that her first drawing of a particular subject will always be her best drawing so she does not like to sketch roughly or do exercises that don’t get to the final product. I thought of her immediately when I looked at the projects in this book.

After a a little Groupon shopping spree at the art store I flipped open the book to see how we could begin. And I found the challenge on page 50.

Create one hundred faces by the end of the summer. I added in the “by the end of the summer” and I also told them that was my goal but they didn’t have to do it-it’s summer, it’s not an assignment.


They all decided to do it. So we cut our fresh, crisp watercolor paper into the recommended 4 x 5 inch rectangles. And I flipped to page 36 to give us a start on our first face.

“Wrong-handed portraits” are exactly how they sound in the title. With a fine point black permanent marker, using your non-dominant hand, draw the face of someone in the same room. Spend more time looking at the person than the lines on the paper.

I chose to do this project first in honor of Jellyfish, because she has a cast on her dominant hand. So we matched her and all used our wrong hand.

Note: Jellyfish mostly wanted to draw people from her head during these projects, not people from her actual life.  I said sure (it’s summer, no big mama-teacher rules).

Jellyfish Draws her Brother

Mookie Draws her Dad

After Wrong-handed portraits, we moved on to Modigliani style, page 64. (Jellyfish, of course, made wrong-handed Modigliani portraits).

Mookie Draws the Woman from the Post Office

And the final style for the day was One Liner Portraits, page 56. Without lifting our pen from the paper, we completed a portrait from life or photograph (or an 8 year old’s imagination).

Jellyfish Draws the Guy in her Head

Mookie Draws her Grandad

Note: I didn’t watch our six year old at all.  I let him go and just do what he wanted to, because sometimes it’s hard for him to track along with our art projects and he gets frustrated.  If he was creating happily and freely, I was happy.

In our future I see “At the coffee shop” portraits, Eyedropper faces, Collaboration Portraits and More.

Because we’re still really excited about the vast variations of beauty in birds, we decided, why not alternate the faces with birds and do 50 birds/50 faces?  Our 10 ten year old got started.

Drawing Lab is not written specifically for children, but it’s evident from our first attempts that the projects are adaptable. Do be careful with your youngers not to give them challenges way beyond their comprehension or it might lead to frustration and  a refusal to do art. My 6 year old didn’t like the assignment I mentioned above with the splotches of paint that we used with our dream poems-the idea of finding images to trace inside the color was too abstract for him.

Six year old Drummer Boy draws Happily and Freely

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