Saturday, April 3, 2010

Van Gogh Clay Self Portraits

A coworker brought me a clipping from a magazine with several art projects. One of them was Vincent van Gogh's self portraits using modeling clay. The clay gave the image in the magazine the perfect texture to imitate van Gogh's use of thick paint resulting in many lines within the paintings. However, when I tried this technique on foamcore board, I had trouble getting it to stick to the smooth surface. I'm sure matboard would work great, but I didn't have enough for my three classes so I tried using regular clay instead and liked the results.

I began by taking a headshot of each student, printing it out, and cropping it into a 7" square. Students were given a slab of clay almost 7" and shown how to use a rolling pin to increase the size. The photos were then placed onto the clay, and they used a clay tool to trace over all of the features and the outside of the photo. When the photo was removed, their image was imprinted in the clay.

Students trimmed the square and used the excess clay to make coils for their hair, and a pattern in the background. They also used a clay tool to make the lines of their image slightly deeper and easier to see. I let them dry and then fired them, and quite a few of them cracked. I was disappointed, because that didn't happen to my example so I didn't consider it when I was letting them dry. I would recommend finding a way to let them dry more evenly; another art teacher suggested to me using old screens for them to dry on.

When the projects were fired, students painted them using tempera paint. They started with their skin tone, moved on to mixing a shade for their hair, and finally completed it with colors for their eyes, mouth, shirt, and background.


hound_dog said...

I love this idea..I am going to try this in the next few weeks...I will post results.

Patty Palmer said...

I've had problems in the past with cracks in flat projects such as this one. I found it was mostly due to not wedging the clay enough before slicing it into tiles or sections. Of course, drying too fast can contribute to cracks and if its a super hot day I loosely place plastic wrap over the clay. Hope these tips help...I hate cracks!!

Melissa Durel-Porter said...

To help with cracking, You may want to try a different medium than clay. I've used the Amaco Super Dough on canvas boards and it works great!