We are using grids a la Brunelleschi to do self portraits. I took a nice three-quarters photo of each student, printed it out 8-1/2″ by 11″ in color on photo paper, and put a grid on top. Then we put a grid between white paper, with drawing paper on top. Render what is in each square, including subtle values, and you’ll end up with an accurate and gorgeous self-portrait.
There’s one thing wrong with this project, though. It is hard.
It takes time and focus to really render accurately what’s in each grid square. That’s all that is hard about it. In terms of technical expertise, it’s actually quite easy. Just copy what is in the grid square.
A girl, one of these students with kute names like Kylie, Kammie, Karilynn, or Krystal, tells me it is too hard, and then she asks me The Question.
“How is this going to help me in later life?”
My first response is to say something mean, like, “Well, it probably won’t help you, because you are going to spend your adult life behind a dusty cash register in a Maverick somewhere, and then go home to your seven lean, dusty children and cook Hamburger Helper for dinner.”
I’ve had my moments, though, with Kimmie-Krystal or whoever she is–and her dad. Papa wants Kimmie to succeed in art and he wants her to be respectful to me. The least I can do is try to return the favor, so I say, “I don’t know, Krystal. Life is long, and you are very young. You still have so much ahead of you. . . .”
In truth, there is no way to know how Shakespeare, Mozart, Brunelleschi, Annie Dillard, or Frank Lloyd Wright will help any particular student in his or her later life. We adults know that bits and pieces of our educations pop up at very odd times to save or inspire us.
In the meantime, we teachers chant to ourselves, “Patience, kindness, courtesy. . . ” and try not to explode when a youngster pops The Question. Perhaps our restraint, in itself, will be a lesson in itself, for “later life.”