For the abstract lesson each year, I like to have two samples if possible–just to demonstrate to students how wildly differently I could approach the same assignment and still be doing it “right.” In a previous post, I demonstrated Monarch Mash-Up: Abstract Art Lesson, Week 4 by doing a king.
This is my second project to teach the same lesson. I just finished this Cubist Queen Mash-up combining Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth I because I plan to show my students both versions, to let them see they do not have to copy my way of interpreting abstraction or Cubism; one can take the same project in multiple directions!
The segment of the abstract movement that I always found the most interesting is the Cubism movement. I love the faces done by artists such as Picasso–you know, the ones that look distorted, one feature out of proportion with another, and even features that are drawn from completely different vantage points. Below are two great examples I have shown my students, both by Picasso.
For an abstract drawing project to fit into this year’s medieval history theme, I came up with a “Monarch Mash-up,” a nod to Cubism, the first abstract style of modern art. This is the practice of analyzing forms, breaking them down and putting them back together–but not necessarily all from the same perspective.
For this project, we will have fun replicating abstraction of faces the way Picasso does. Those faces look like some of the features don’t belong together at all–they’re even from different vantage points! They are not in proportion and perspective is all wrong!
So how about taking it one step further? We can not only mix and match features of different perspectives and sizes, but why not mix together features of more than one person?
Below is my quick-walk through my queen project, designed for people who read the king project from which this derives. So, if you’ve not read that, a more thorough, step-by-step with more explanation of this monarch mash-up concept can be found in Monarch Mash-Up: Abstract Art Lesson, Week 4. There I also linked to many, many coloring pages and drawings of various monarchs from the history sentences and beyond, though on this page I refer only to the queens.
From Queen Mary’s portrait, I chose her eyes, that fantastic mouth that could be broken down into a series of triangles, and her clothing. (You can download this picture of Queen Mary)
I used Elizabeth’s hair and headdress, facial shape, nose, chin and jewelry. (You can download this picture of Queen Elizabeth.)
After tracing the shapes I wanted, I drew the basic shapes on my blank paper:
Now here is where you may notice, if you’ve seen my other art lessons–that it seems I’m skipping a step or few:
My basic shapes aren’t refined for my final. This is part of what the Cubist movement was about: breaking things down to their essential basic shapes. And the goal can stop there.
This is a stretch for me–to try to simplify and keep things more basic, more geometric. But it was fun! I added the circles around the hair from the original headpiece as an abstraction of the whole form. She simply looked like she needed more decoration. She is from the Renaissance after-all. I left off the big ruff around her head, and she needed something to look a bit more elaborate.
I wanted to explore using color the way some Cubists did. I knew I wanted red a prominent color, not just because Queen Elizabeth was a red-head. And Mary’s nickname was “Bloody Mary” for her killing of Protestants, and Queen Elizabeth was rather fiery. The break-down of Mary’s fur into what looks like red flames seemed appropriate, as well as the red in the hair and the red neck. Green is also a perfect symbolic color to use often; these sisters were raised in a system fostering jealousy as first their mothers vied for their father’s attention. Then once the throne came to Mary, her fears of Elizabeth grew to the point she imprisoned Elizabeth.
Unfortunately, the crayons were RoseArt brand–horribly oily and waxy! I thought I could color lightly and thereby blend–such as coloring blue over the yellow on the chin to make green. It proved impossible, so the effects in my head looks quite different!
Doing this second version was a lot of fun. It’s not the style I usually practice, so it was neat to try something different. My king project in Monarch Mash-Up: Abstract Art Lesson, Week 4 follows the same general concept, but the style of drawing and interpreting the abstract movement of Cubism is quite different from this project. Check that out for faces that focus more on the distortion of features and yet also a bit more refined/less geometric shapes.
My one regret is that in neither of these tutorials on Cubism do I show an example that is really wild–showing features from a profile mixed with features from the front view. In other years I did do this, and it’s really fun for the kids. But I couldn’t find any monarch portraits in profile! (Just not a typical choice.) Oh well, there are other years/other cycles to try other things!
Enjoy the creativity you see in your students!
Other drawing lessons: