Is it a polaroid? NO! It’s a portrait


Maya Davison, Guest Writer




GNA CAMPUS- For a large portion of the second quarter, Art I has been diligently working on self-portraits in order to capture the art of realism. Realism is an art style that focuses on making pieces look as realistic and true-to-life as possible.

Some examples of realism are realistic portraits, landscapes, and still life paintings. While the subjects may appear somewhat stylized, realism seeks to present subjects as they look in real life. Art teacher, Mrs. Rubal, took photos for this assignment, and the student’s job is to replicate the image onto a larger scale.

Portraiture is a very old art form going back at least to ancient Egypt where it originated about 5,000 years ago. Before photography, a painted, sculpted, or drawn portrait was the only way to keep a record of someone’s appearance. Portraits were used for more than facial identification, they were a way to portray virtue, beauty, elegance, importance, and above all, power. In almost all cases, this art form was used as flattery. If the artist chose to create a displeasing or distasteful piece, like the portrait artist William Hogarth, it was usually rejected.

A popular portrait artist who many know, and has become a symbol of Mexican pop culture, is Frida Kahlo. Kahlo painted mostly self-portraits, which became her trademark after her work became popular. Depicted in most of her artwork are the many health issues she faced throughout her life. Numerous paintings by Frida Kahlo were very dark and macabre. One, in particular, showing a nearly nude version of herself with her body split down the middle, her spine replaced with a metal rod. ‘The Broken Column’ was her expression of pain she endured while dealing with her scoliosis as a young woman. She also used a lot of vibrant and brilliant colors in her work, which usually involved the greenery and flowers of her garden, which is still thriving today.

For this specific project, students were taught how many artists use tools such as using a grid to draw square by square to make the process of drawing from reference simpler. 

This project was personally a big struggle for many students. Before this, some were self-taught and have never drawn realistically before. Many in the class never felt the need to learn how to draw realism because they were so secure in the art style they have cultivated over the years.

On the other hand, others were going into this project with no previous drawing experience at all and were walking in blind. A big issue was figuring out how large or small the students needed to draw the facial features. Since they were looking off of an 8×8 photo, making features such as the nose and eyes were very difficult for many new realism artists to interpret.

Some aspects of drawing that many students were very comfortable with made this project more exciting and interesting than they thought. A favorite part of any artwork that a multitude of young artists enjoy is the adding of value and contrast to their sketch, which really brought life to everyone’s portraits. A lot of these incredibly talented students took this project very seriously and toiled throughout this entire process. 

This project meant a to the Art I classes because not only did they find some needed love for their work, the students found creativity in themselves that they have hidden, and a lot of self-expression came out of learning this skill. This was a project that a lot of students really took pride in. As this is many’s first realistic piece, they should be proud of what they have created.