Mixed Media Portraiture

Term: 3 Year: 2019

This Unit of work involved a study of mixed media portraiture involving a variety of materials in its creation.

The boys started the unit by researching the artwork of portrait artists such as: Lennie Lee, a South African conceptual artist who lives and works in London; Michael Parker, an Australian artist, David Fairbairn, a West Africa Archibald prize winner and Florian Nicolle, a French illustration artist. They completed compare and contrast tasks, highlighting the similarities and differences in the work of these artists and looking closely at the media they used.

The next step was to take a “selfie” on their iPad and to digitally manipulate the photograph to achieve areas of light and areas of dark, and to create a snapshot that portrayed something about themselves as people. They drew a series of sketches from these photos and refined these until they achieved a final sketch which they photocopied onto watercolour paper several times. Some of these sketches were used to practice and experiment with different techniques and media.

The boys then spent several lessons experimenting with, and combining different media including watercolour, pencil, soft pastel, oil pastel, charcoal, fine point pen and watercolour pencils. They combined these with a variety of paper types until they decided on the combinations of media they wanted to use and that worked best for their portrait.

Each student then created two portraits, using different combinations of media, from their final design sketch. They mounted the finished artworks on white, or brown paper and framed them using the A3 double sided pre-cut mounts. As an extension activity some elected to do an extension piece which incorporated digital sections of their photograph as well.
The boys completed the Unit with a self-evaluation exercise, detailing what they liked about their artworks, what they would change if given the chance to re-do the artworks, and what they learnt from the Unit. The boys were completely engaged with this series of activities and were very pleased with their completed portraits.

Judi Robertson
Haileybury Castlefield, Brighton