Two different classrooms have been interested in faces and bodies lately. Each group began their focus with an exploration of eyes, but in two completely different languages.
The Purple Room started by drawing self-portraits, and then decided it would be interesting to isolate the different features of the face. The art specialist put out a variety of different eyes for the children to examine and then draw from. What would the children be able to notice now that they are without the distraction of the other features?
We began by talking about what they noticed about the photographs of the eyes on the table.
They’re just eyes. This pupil is really big!
This is a funny eye, it has all these spots.
Your eye looks hypnotized, its when you get under control.
That one looks scared.
This one looks angry, it kind of closes.
This one is surprised and this one looks curious.
We drew the eye in steps, first talking about the large outer shape.
It looks like a lemon.
It’s a football shape.
Then we drew the iris. All of the children seemed familiar with the term pupil and they seemed especially aware of this part. Then came the smaller details; eye lids eyelashes…
We used colored pencils to add color.
I notice you are drawing lines on your iris.
Those are called eyebronatics (sp?).
I see you drew two iris and two pupils inside your eye, Why?
That means that you can see from far away, too.
The children were able to notice so much more about eyes by having the large blown up pictures. Many of the children were able to pick up on the person’s emotions without seeing the whole face. It is clear they were able to make this connection by the work they have doing in the classroom. The comment about the reason for two iris and two pupils in one eye was fascinating. Has that student talked to someone about bifocals?
Sculpting Clay Eyes
The Rainbow Room looked at eyes in an entirely different language – through clay. The intention was to allow the children a focused time to explore how they could do this and what techniques and skills they would need to practice in order to create a representational clay self-portrait. Creating these offer an interesting puzzle, how do we create three dimensional representations of a two dimensional image?
In thinking about making an eye, the children were asked to focus on three distinctive parts: the sclera (the white part), the iris, and the pupil. We discussed how even though our eyes look different from each other’s eyes; our eyes all share these same components.
As one student works with his clay, he periodically gazes into the mirror and opens his eyes wide.
Examining the photographs, and looking at each other’s eyes and their own in mirrors, caused one student to ask an interesting question…
What are those white things in your eye that looks like lights?
I know! It’s not a light. It’s a detection or something…
A reflection! Maybe of something shiny like a mirror.
A student chooses to create an eye by drawing into a slab of clay and then, adding the details of the iris and pupil using flattened balls. She uses a clay tool to make eyelashes. After completing the first eye, she decides to make another- this time really paying close attention to the shape of the eye and the tear duct. When she is finished, she puts them together and chooses to create a large face.
Another creates the three eye parts by first pounding a piece of clay into a disc shape, and then adding a large coil and a ball.
This student chooses to create an eye using coils and balls. As he works, he occasionally lifts the clay and lines it up with the photograph he is using as a reference.
It looks just about right!
Just as every eye is unique so is the work of the Rainbow Room children-this is observable in the ways which they approach their work, and also, in the work itself. That being said, they are observant of each other…they take notice and show appreciation and support of each other, and this helps to inform the way they each work with materials and what they create.