"A Faithful Attempt" is designed to showcase a variety of K-12 art lessons, the work of my art students, as well as other art-related topics. Projects shown are my take on other art teacher's lessons, lessons found in books or else designed by myself.
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LAND ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I acknowledge, with deep respect, that I am gathered on Treaty 7 territory. I acknowledge the many First Nations, Métis and Inuit whose footsteps have marked these lands for generations. I respect the histories, languages and cultures all the Indigenous peoples of Canada, whose presence continues to enrich our community.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Modigliani Style Portraits

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) was an Jewish/Italian figurative painter and sculptor who worked primarily in Paris, then the center of the avante garde at the beginning of the 20th century. Modigliani is almost the epitome of the 'tragic artist', in a way similar to Vincent Van Gogh. He lived a life of poverty which also involved alcoholism, drug abuse and tragic love affairs. His life of excess was ended by his death, at only 35, from tuberculosis. Modigliani died penniless and destitute—managing only one solo exhibition in his life and giving his work away in exchange for meals in restaurants or to ex-girlfriends. 
Today his paintings and sculptures sell for millions.

Here's a Modigliani I took a photo of at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris.

Amedeo Modigliani

"Portrait of Jeanne Hebuterne", 1918

Modigliani's portraits are characterized by elongated forms and simple, almost mask-like faces.
For this project, Grade 8 students created tempera paintings in the style of Modigliani. I started off by showing them a slide show of Modigliani's portraits and we discussed the main characteristics, colours and style of his works. They started by drawing a stylized portrait lightly in pencil. They had to include an elongated face, stretched neck, and large, almond shaped eyes. The rest was up to them.
Students seem to quite enjoy this type of portrait drawing as it's not super realistic
so it allows for a looser interpretation of the facial proportions.

Then they painted these using tempera paint. I chose tempera (as opposed to acrylic) because it dries to such a nice matte, flat finish. I felt this would lend well to the somewhat sombre feel typical of Modigliani's work. As well, Modigliani's portraits often include a sketchy, soft black outline and I knew charcoal would be perfect for this step. Charcoal works on top of tempera brilliantly. The tempera has the perfect rough texture to 'hold' the dry, dusty charcoal.

charcoal pencils for the last step
While painting, students were encouraged to loosely mix and blend colours on the painting itself. They also needed to include some type of simple background. Once dry, students used a charcoal pencil to add outlines and definition, then gently blended these lines with their finger.

Here are some of the results:


Anna Pietrolungo, Essendon North Primary School said...

Stunning art work. I hope you don't mind but I might do these with my year 6s. I have done Modigliani with students before and they always work out fabulously. Thanks Anna:)

Dolunay -Alanayarts said...

çok güzeller.tebrik ediyorum...

Patty Palmer said...

These are wonderful! I never thought about using charcoal to outline. Love the idea. Thanks!

Miriam Paternoster said...

brilliant! Your student are very good painter! It’s amazing using charcoal to outline! Thanks, Miriam

Mary said...

Wow! These are just gorgeous. Your students did a fantastic job. I love the bold lines of the charcoal as well. Kudos to you!

Miss said...

Thanks everyone!
Anna: yes, of course you can try this with your Year 6's- I'd love to see the results.

Miss Foote said...

Love your blog and all your ideas. I am awarding you the Versatile blogger award.
Check it out:


Nena said...

Hi, thank you for visiting my blog. I used regular drawing paper, and oil pastels. Once the drawings were done the kids covered it with black tempera. After "washing" off the tempera the kids used a paper clip (yup, a paper clip) to re-draw the flowers.
Hope this helps.

Chesterbrook Academy Elementary said...

He is one of my favorite artists.
Your students did a fantastic job.
I love the boldness of colors and the expressiveness of lines.

sukotsuto said...

I'm really fascinated at how the paintings turned out - they all look very beautiful!

I want this exercise to be tried out in other schools, not just because I love Modigliani's paintings.

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