Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lesson: Bad Hair Day (Line and Shape)

A change in curriculum structure:
You may have read about the way we structured our Art Survey course last year in my post about the Identity Sketchbook Cover.  After looking at the pros and cons of this intense structure (1 Element of Art each week),  I wanted to develop a less intense path.  While I felt like my students really got to know the Elements really well last year, I just felt that it was a lot of work for both me and my students (which isn't a bad thing, necessarily).  I also really wanted some more major pieces of art along the way (especially for the All-City Art Show, which we need to have artwork for by January).  So, instead, we structured the curriculum to focus on a few Elements at a time, with the same idea of using the sketchbook for notes and exercises, and then applying those together into a piece of artwork.  

Our first Elements of Art were Line and Shape.  Specifics that we focused on were:  organic, geometric, line weight, and the differences between line and shape (of course).  I found some really great projects on the interwebs, and then I modified them for our goals and expectations.  

So here is the morph:  I love the scratchboard lesson I posted a while ago (one stolen from a plan on the incredible art site- that lesson seems to no longer be there) using cut out images of people/heroes/etc, and then morphing the body and background into art nouveau or art deco styles.  

Then, as I was searching for some sub lesson ideas one day, I came across this "Bad Hair Day" idea...  where you take your own drawn portrait and give yourself a new bad or crazy hairdo.  

I also ran into ZENTANGLES!  These are pretty awesome and along the same line (no pun intended).

Then... they had a baby... and WA-LA!

The best of both worlds... PLUS a fun little reading to help teach our students the annotation expectations... BINGO BANGO!  I'm a genius!  (A thief, but also a genius!)  

 Line and Shape:  Bad Hair Day 

Again, Matt and I ended up in slightly different directions by the end of this piece, which was really exciting, actually!  

Before working on this project, I gave the students a short little article about Bad Hair Days and how it affects us (even celebrities!).  We went through the annotation expectations (our school wide initiative in regards to literacy) and then there were a few questions that the students had to answer on their own (and then share!).  What was fun about this, besides getting to know my students a little better, was that it was a great way to segue into the project.  "So, why do you think we are reading about Bad Hair Days?"  

The Project:
1.  Find a good quality image of your hero or someone you look up to.  (This project was done on 12" x 18" paper, so really the kids stuck to portraits and not so much full body.)
2.  In sketchbook, students created 3 thumbnail sketches of the composition and type of hair style.  In my case, the students could create EITHER a geometric hair style OR an organic hair style.  Discussion on Compositional Techniques.  Students had to have the thumbnails approved by me and I signed my initials by the one design they liked the best and were going to move forward with.  Then I gave them a sheet of paper (or allowed them to take one from the table).
3.  Precisely cut out the person using scissors with EXCELLENT CRAFTSMANSHIP (showed the students how to use scissors... sounds weird, but it's something you just have to do), EXCLUDING the person's hair.  This can be tricky depending on the photo- sometimes the hair is draping across shoulders or what not.  Also, 'tis the time to really talk about what craftsmanship means.  
4.  Glue the portrait to the paper using EXCELLENT craftsmanship.  
5.  Draw the outline of the hair using pencil.  
6.  Break up the INSIDE of the hairstyle into corresponding shapes using pencil.  For example, if the hairdo is geometric, then the shapes inside need to be geometric (best way to easily determine if students understand the difference between geometric and organic).
7.  Students trade in ID for a fine sharpie.  They will use a thick line weight to outline the hairdo, and a medium line weight to outline the shapes inside.
8.  Students trade in ID for an ultra fine sharpie and may then begin line designs inside the shapes- though the lines also need to be corresponding with geometric or organic.  They can use different line weights if they want, but should use the ultra fine sharpie OR a pen works great, too!  
9.  The background should be broken into the OPPOSITE shapes (if hair is geometric, the background should be organic).  Using medium line weight, outline in sharpie.  (The only outline that is a thick line weight is the outline of the hair.  
10.  The background shapes should be filled in with corresponding lines types using a light line weight in ultra fine sharpie or pen.  

If students had more time or wanted to embellish when finished, I suggested to them to use colors either in the background OR the hair.  Often, it was easy to suggest unifying the hair to the portrait by using a color that was in the portrait.  For example, if the portrait had a red shirt on, then maybe using red or warm colors in the hair will tie the piece together and draw emphasis to the portrait.

I also had the students write a short essay (based on prompts) about why they chose their particular hero and how a bad hair day would affect their hero.  

*Please note:  I didn't have time to crop and size all images properly.  Forgive me?  I think you get the idea...

Matt's students had the option of creating a background with the contrasting line designs, OR cutting out their portrait and hair and pasting it onto a contrasting background all together.  I love the variation between ours and just gives us more ideas or options for future modification (time, skill levels, etc).  Here are some examples of what his students did...




  1. I'm an art teacher, and I love this! I've done the original "bad hair day" and other Zentangle projects. The marrying of the two together is fabulous!

  2. Great! I'll be posting another updated TWIST on this one soon... :)

  3. I am a high school art teacher and did this-the students really liked this project and there were some very creative results to this project!

    1. Would love to see what YOUR students came up with!

  4. Did this project for the first time last year with my students, had some really great results. I had the students choose either organic or geometric lines and shapes. If they chose to make the hair organic, then the background would be geometric.

    1. Yep! That's awesome! I'd love to see some of your students' works!

  5. Hi Janet,

    I love this art assignment and plan on doing it with my grade 7 and 8 students. I was wondering if you had a version of the assignment page that is editable (i.e. word or pages). I also noticed that on the bottom of the assignment page you listed what the students were being graded on but I was wondering if you have a rubric that you used for assessment. Thanks a ton for sharing!

  6. Hi Laurgirl-
    Thanks for the compliments! I will edit the post to include what my rubric looks like for this assignment. :) I'm thinking I should write a post all about assessment and rubrics that I love!

  7. What a great idea, the results are fantastic your students should be congratulated on their creativity.

    1. Thanks Katrina! I love seeing what the students come up with!

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  9. I love this idea and would like to try it. Do you have a link or the title to the article that you used?

    1. I don't- it was on the Incredible Art page maybe 8 years ago now?

  10. Do you have a marking scheme/rubric for this? I REALLY love this activity!

  11. I'm also curious if you'd be willing to provide the assessment tool (rubric?) you used for this. Looks awesome!