Self Portraits: Kehinde Wiley style Putting Yourself in the Picture

"Samuel Eto'o", 2010, oil on Canvas, Kehinde Wiley

Kehinde Wiley puts himself in the picture.

Kehinde Wiley

As an African American artist of Nigerian descent, Wiley flips the script on Western Art History. Western culture has often been criticized for being too focused on white men. Obscuring, or failing to celebrate the accomplishments of women and people of color to the same degree as those of white men. The predominance of portraiture up until the 20th century has honored the powerful and the elite. Wiley invites us to rewrite that tradition by placing ordinary people in poses drawn directly from famous paintings. In assuming these poses they assume the power and dignity that perhaps is overlooked in their day to day lives.

How do you want to be remembered?

This is an important year for you. Your last year of middle school, you are about to take on high school status, with all the responsibility that will involve. This is also the time when most of you are "discovering" who you are. Perhaps breaking away from old interests and moving on to new ones. Creating an identity for yourself beyond how your family and friends have seen you so far. Using Wiley's work as inspiration we are going to create large scale self-portraits to tell the world who we are, and how we want to be seen.

This project will take us about two weeks and involve several steps. Each step will have a turn-in. Read the directions below carefully.

STEP 1: RESEARCH. Use the links below to find a Renaissance portrait or self-portrait that conveys the pose or attitude that you want to assume. When you search, be looking for interesting expressions, we will be focusing on the face, not full body portraits. Also search for a background pattern that you will use as inspiration to paint a background for your image. In Wiley's work the backgrounds add an extra layer of opulence, adding a sense of majesty and authority to his subjects. This should not be a random choice, not just picking something you like, but rather a deliberate choice of a pattern that somehow adds further meaning to your image. When you have found a portrait and a pattern, save them to your camera roll, and upload them to Google Classroom. Class Engagement Grade - 10 pts.

Eugene Vincent Vidal, "Portrait of a Woman with a Fan", Gustave Courbet, "The Desperate Man" (Self-Portrait), Sir Thomas Lawrence "Portrait of a Young Man"

STEP 2: STRIKE A POSE. Assume the posture and expression of the portrait you chose. Remember for our project we are focusing on the shoulders up, not full figure portraits. Add a high contrast black & white filter such as "Noir". Post it to Google Classroom and we will print it. Class Engagement Grade - 10 pts.

STEP 3: GRID IT UP. Create a 1/2" grid over your photo so we can easily copy it to your final piece of paper. Create a 1" grid on a 16" x 20" piece of drawing paper. This will allow you to easily and precisely transfer your image. To transfer start with the contour lines drawn VERY lightly. Once you have all the contour lines drawn you can carefully erase the grid and start to work on adding a range of values to your portrait with drawing pencils. This step will take quite some time to get right, perhaps a full week, we will stop after the first day for a quick crit to monitor our progress. When you have completed your portrait, Post to Google Classroom. This will be a Quiz Grade - 50 points.

STEP 4: PAINT YOUR PATTERN AND BRING IT ALL TOGETHER. Look at the examples below to see how you will cut out your self-portrait drawing and use it as a stencil to draw an outline onto a piece of 18" x 24" paper. Then, using tempera paint, fill the background with a pattern inspired by your research. Use a complementary color scheme. Make sure to have some elements of the pattern appear to end BEHIND your head. Then Glue your portrait onto your background. Finally, also in the style of Wildey, paint a few elements of the pattern to come in FRONT of your portrait. NOW YOU ARE DONE, BRAVO!

Submit to Google Classroom. Test Grade - 100 pts.

Examples from Mrs. Kamp's Canvas website,
Created By
Jennifer Desnouee


Created with images by xlibber - "1920s Wallpaper" • irinaraquel - "Sir Anthony van Dyck - Self-portrait with a Sunflower"

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