Who do I see when I look in the mirror? That’s the question each second grade student contemplated when completing Art Teacher Susan Turner’s recent project in the Lower School Art Studio. This project was a lesson not only in how to color mix tempera paints, but also in discovery and self-reflection.
After learning about color mixing in tempera paint, the students began to think about skin tones. “We first read the book, All the Colors We Are/Todos los colores de nuestra piel: The Story of How We Get Our Skin Color/La historia de por que tenemos diferentes colores de piel,” explains Ms. Turner, “to learn about how we each get our own unique skin color. Then we looked at the work of Brazilian artist Angélica Daas, whose ongoing photographic Humanae project attempts to document humanity’s true colors.” The students had fun using their color mixing skills to create as many skin tones as possible before launching into their own portrait.
To create these beautiful self portraits, the students consider facial proportions and how we each have unique shapes for our heads, eyes, noses, and mouths. They started by looking into mirrors and drawing their likeness “from life,” rather than from a photograph. Next, they mixed up their own skin tone to paint their drawings. Students then used oil pastel on top of the tempera to capture their unique facial features. Finally, they created colorful backgrounds in watercolor on which they glued their portraits.
Even the backgrounds were carefully thought out. “My background shows all the ideas that I have swirling around my head,” explains Marjorie D., ’33.