Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

The Art of Storytelling


If she could write and illustrate her own short story and get published, then so can you. Here is how to get started:

STEP 1: STORY AND CHARACTER IDEAS
Developing your story: Write what you know. Base your fictional story on an experience you had that had great meaning for you. The main character doesn't have to be you, they don't even have to be human, but in order for other people to be able to relate to your character, you need to be able to relate to them. Watch this 'Pixar in a Box' video and you will see what I mean:


STEP 2: PLOT IDEAS

Coming up with interesting scenarios: Take your protagonist out of their comfort zone. Throw them into a setting that is unfamiliar and uncomfortable for them. Take a look at the Pixar in a Box video below and you will see what I mean:



STEP 3: DEVELOPING YOUR CHARACTERS
 In the best stories the heroes are not perfect. They have flaws and hopefully learn something about themselves and experience emotional growth as the story progresses.

Does your story have a villain? In many of the most interesting stories the villain and the hero actually have a lot of traits in common. It is usually the choices they make that differentiate them, not their abilities. For instance, in Star Wars Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader both started out the same way, yet one chose the path of a villain and the other the hero's path. In the Harry Potter books, both Voldemort and Harry were lonely unwanted orphans with magical powers. Making the hero not 100% good and the villain not 100% bad will make your story more engaging.

ASSIGNMENT:



STEP 5: LET'S ILLUSTRATE!
Drawing your story:
In the 1980's every artist at Marvel Comics had the graphic 'Wally Wood's 22 Panels that Always Work!!!' hanging over their drawing table. Below is a video that shows how they can be used by cartoonists, illustrators, photographers and even cinematographers:




Below is a video I created in the spring of 2015 when teaching my students how to illustrate their own stories:





BELOW IS A STORY WRITTEN AND ILLUSTRATED BY SOME OF MY SIXTH GRADE STUDENTS IN 2015. 
Notice how the author was able to take very painful events from her own experiences, her parents being deported and her older sister growing up and leaving home, and use them to tell an imaginary story about a mission to Mars. This is how great original fictional stories are told. The author uses personal experience to get their audience to care, then creates an imaginary setting, characters and plot. The result is something both completely new, yet relatable and familiar.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Self-portraits: My two selves


Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) painted this self portrait, while looking in a mirror, when he was only 15. What can you tell about the teenager in this painting? What can you tell about him from his clothing and hair style? What about the expression on his face? Are the colors in the picture cool or warm?



In 1895, when he was 14 years old, Picasso’s 8 year old sister became very ill. His mother told him to pray for his sister because she might die. That night when he said his prayers, he promised God that if He would only let his sister live, Picasso would give up the things that he loved the most. He promised God that he would never draw or paint again if only Conchita could live. When Conchita died, 14 year old Picasso felt that it was his own fault. But he also felt that God wanted him to continue to create art. Picasso drew this picture of Conchita when she was eight and he was 14, before she became ill. You can see the thoughtful, serious expression of a young man who has known pain when you look at the 15 year old Picasso’s self portrait. His clothes and hair show a well taken care of teen but his expression is thoughtful and sad.


This is another self portrait by Picasso. He painted it in 1901, when he was 19. What do you notice about the young man in this picture? What colors did he use? What do you notice about the expression on his face? What might have happened to cause Picasso to feel this way?

Pablo Picasso created this memorial painting, The Death of Casagemas, in 1901 in Paris, when he was 19. Casagemas had been Picasso’s best friend. They had travelled to Paris together with the ambition of becoming famous artist but times were difficult. Their apartment was cold and drafty and they did not have enough money for food. Notice the hollow cheeks in the blue self portrait in the previous slide. Casagemas fell in love with a beautiful girl but she did not care for him and liked Picasso instead. In despair, Csagemas killed himself. Once again, Picasso felt that he was responsible for the death of a loved one. The blue pallor of Picasso’s skin and grim look on his face reflect his feelings. The portrait depicts a man who has lost his best friend.

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) painted this self portrait in 1887.


Van Gogh painted this self portrait in 1889. Ten years after Van Gogh’s death Picasso saw his paintings in Paris. Van Gogh’s paintings were revolutionary. He was the first painter to use color to express emotion.

Van Gogh painted this self portrait shortly after the blue one. Compare the serious, sad thoughtful look in his eyes to Picasso’s 15 year old painting.

This is a self portrait by the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.  Notice how she emphasizes her eyebrows in this picture. What does the shape of her eyebrows look like? She painted her eyebrows in the shape of a bird on purpose. She was disabled in a very bad bus accident as a young woman and drew her eyebrows like that to symbolize her dream of being, like a bird, free from disability and pain. Because of this accident she was also unable to have children. Every time she got pregnant she miscarried. She kept many pets, including these spider monkeys. She loved them and took good care of them. To her they symbolized the children she could never have.


Here is another self portrait by the same artist.


 Here is a self portrait I created when I was 19

Here is a self portrait I created when I was 24

Below is a slide presentation of the pictures you just saw for easy classroom viewing:


After reflecting upon the ways self-portraits can express various feelings, take a look in the mirror and create your own self-portraits. Watch the film below for some tips for drawing faces:



Using a dry eraser marker and a piece of plastic, try closing one eye and practice tracing the features of a friend's face.



Next, use a mirror and try to trace the features of your own face. Practice making different facial expressions with your mouth and eyebrows to express different emotions.

You can see by the self portraits of the artists that I have shown here that the same person can look completely different depending on how they are feeling and what they are going through in their lives. The assignment below was inspired by a lesson written by Eric Gibbons called 'My evil twin.' To see Mr. Gibbons lesson please click here.

You will be folding your paper in half and creating two self-portraits. One will be you and the other will be your 'evil twin' or 'other self' . Change the coloring of the portrait and the facial expressions on the second self portrait to clearly show your audience which twin is evil. When you are done drawing and coloring your picture, follow the directions below to create a story to go with your artwork:


Person, Place and Problem
My evil twin
Your story’s main character will be loosely based on you. That means that it will be written in the first person (using the pronoun ‘I’). The character can be older or younger than you, even grown up. They can have a completely different life than you. They may also have a different name than you. But their personality and how they would act in imaginary situations should be based on you. They must be human.
Your story must have a setting. It could be anywhere, real or imaginary, past, present or future.
Your character must have an evil twin that tries to ruin his or her life by pretending to be them. Be as original and creative as possible. What are some ways an evil twin could potentially cause you problems?
The ‘twin’ does not need to be related to the main character. They merely have to look identical to them. They could be an actual twin, a clone, a cyborg, a time traveler, a relative or just a doppelganger. However they must be able to get away with impersonating the main character, at least for a while.
How does the main character try to solve their problem? Does anyone believe them? Can they expose the evil twin?
Your story must end in a cliffhanger. Think of the season finale of your favorite TV show, where you have to wait until next season to find out how it ends. Keep your readers interested. Does your main character get the happy ending they deserve? Or is all lost? Keep your audience guessing.
Be as creative and original as possible. Have fun. If you finish early, try retelling the story from the evil twin’s perspective



Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Six Ways to make your artwork look three dimensional





The six ways to make your artwork look three dimensional

1) Overlapping (Objects in front partially hiding objects in back).




 2) Shading (Shading gives an object a sense of three dimensional volume)



3) Placement in relation to the horizon line (Objects below your eye level look farther away if the bottom edge of the object sits higher on the page)




4) Size (If two objects are the same size, the one farther away will appear smaller)





5) Value and focus (atmospheric perspective) Draw far away objects more lightly, use more faded color and use less detail


To learn more about atmospheric perspective, please click here and here.

6) Linear Perspective (Lines appear to converge as they go off into the distance, meeting at a vanishing point on the horizon line)





To learn more about one point linear perspective, please click here, here, here and here.
To learn more about two point perspective, please click here.

Below is a time lapse video of me, drawing a landscape using two point perspective. How many of the 'six ways to make your artwork look three dimensional' can you identify in this video?