Modigliani Self-Portraits

Amadeo Modigliani was an Italian Modernist painter during the 20th century.  He is best known for his minimalist portraits of women with strange almond shaped eyes that are completely colored in.  The faces are nearly alien and the bodies are linear.  The backgrounds are non-descriptive and surreal.    Upon looking at his art kids will often remark about how alien the women appear and how strange the portraits are.  This lesson  is an excellent introduction into basic facial proportions as the students don’t have to worry so much about the realistic shapes of the face, just the correct placement of simplified facial features.
I posted before about DBAE (Discipline Based Art Education) and this particular lesson plan has a strong art critical component that leads into an understanding of Modigliani’s aesthetic.  The students will go through with the teacher all of the Elements of Art and Principals of Design and how they relate to Modigliani’s paintings.
modigliani
Art Lesson Plan

Modigliani Self-Portrait

Grade: 3rd-6th

# of 50 minute sessions: 4

Art Resources: visuals from the Girl series by Amadeo Modigliani and teacher exemplar
Art Materials: one 11”x14” sheet of white paper per student, pencils, erasers, and oil pastels.
Objectives-
Student will:
– create a self-portrait in the style of Amadeo Modigliani.
– create a drawing using pencils and oil pastels.
– learn about the art of Modigliani.
– discuss the artwork of Modigliani according to the Principals of Design and Elements of Art.
Vocabulary: Amadeo Modigliani, Modern Art, Principals of Design, Elements of Art, and Self-Portrait.
Procedure:
Day 1: Teacher will introduce visuals from the Girl series by Amadeo Modigliani. Teacher will discuss the art criticism part of the lesson with the student and go over vocabulary. Student will view the visuals and begin discussing with students the work of art according to the Elements of Art and Principals of Design. The teacher will demonstrate how to draw a self-portrait in Modigliani’s style. Student will draw his/her self-portrait using pencil (lightly).
Day 2: Student will review vocabulary, the art critical component from the prior week, and teacher product/visual aide.Student will begin coloring in self-portrait.
Days 3-4: Student will review vocabulary and teacher product/visual aide. Student will finish coloring his self-portrait and present his artwork to the class.  Student will share with the class using the Elements of Art and Principals of Design how his self-portrait is similar in style to Modigliani’s portraits.

I Used to Be an Artist

Some artists create everyday like clockwork.  They take their canvas and easel and go to a mountain top or a cliff and paint for hours on end until they have a masterpiece or hurl their canvas over the cliff like Cezanne in a fit of frustration.  I am not that kind of artist. I have never been that kind of artist and yet my whole life I have been Liza the artist.  I was the girl in high school who spent countless hours in the art room listening to Depeche Mode on her headphones shading and mixing colors. I attended art school, have a B.F.A. in painting, and went onto a successful career as art teacher in the public schools.  I created my own art and displayed it in galleries in my spare time.  Then one day in October of 2013 I got the call that ended my artistic career: I was finally pregnant.  I had tried for several years to create what would become one of my two greatest masterpieces, not knowing that this news would make me completely redefine myself.

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Maybe you’re reading this saying I shouldn’t have to give up my artistic pursuits to be a mom.  You’re right.  There are plenty of people who have babies and manage with a helpful family member, daycare, or sleep schedules to continue their interests.  I have fully committed myself to being a mom and put this part of myself on the back burner.  My practice as an artist has ebbed and flowed throughout my life.  Three summers ago before my pregnancy I was creating art everyday, and now nothing since.  The blog is filling the creative void to express what art left behind.  I do miss it, but not terribly because I know one day it will consume my life again.