If you haven't caught on already, I am out to break any records set by artists for doing a lot of self-portraits. I believe I have passed Van Gogh, and have almost caught up with Rembrandt and Chuck Close.
Sometimes when my students are working, I sit down and do the assignment with them. For this project, I started by reading them the book Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni. If you haven't read this book, by all means do so. It is a classic. It's the story of a minnow and tadpole. The minnow grows into a fish, but is disappointed when his friend sprouts legs and leaves the pond. When his friend, now a frog, returns, he tells of a fantastic world outside the water. Based on his friend's descriptions, the fish imagines what this world must look like. His perceptions are limited by his own experience!
The illustrations are awesome, and the kids get all kinds of crazy ideas for unusual fish they would like to draw. I drew an art-fish, but we got all kinds. Next we color with crayons. But you can't color like a wimp -- you have to get mad at something. Imagine how you felt when your little sister broke that really cool thing you made out of Legos. Oh yeah, press down hard with those crayons.
We have to do this because we're using the technique of crayon resist. That's when you paint over the crayon drawing with watercolor paint. The waxy image keeps popping through the layers of paint. We painted blue over our fish and underwater scenes. The blue paint beads up on the thick crayon layers. All in all, it's a neat effect for pictures like these.