Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Fernand Leger Minimal Portraits

So lovely and pensive. Have Mom frame this one Matt!
This artist got so upset about her face half way through. But just look how GORGEOUS it is Cate! She lost her front tooth just a minute later by the way! :D
This artist (kindergarten) always makes beautiful and independent choices. Wonderful work Alexa!

To kick off the new year, I wanted to introduce my students to a few artists they may have not heard of before. Leger was a French painter born in 1881 who created sleek futuristic work despite the fact that he came from peasant farming stock. Some consider him to be the original father of Pop Art. I showed the children how he used spaces of color over which he painted a minimal use of line in many of his pieces. As a graphic design major, this was instantly familiar. Many logos contain these same elements.

My younger elementary (K-3) students created these portraits by painting shapes in only 3 colors. I didn't want them to even think about how the portrait would play out on top. I thought it would be more fun to create these spontaneously. After the paint dried they created a Leger-like work using charcoal bold lines. (I plan to do some complex Leger inspired cities with my older children.)


  1. Mary I am totally stealing this idea. I love the results. I had been thinking something similar, but your idea is so much better! Did you do the faces as a guided drawing?

  2. Thanks Barbara! I did do a guided drawing lesson since these are younger children. I wanted them to do features similar to Leger.

  3. I love the strong blocks of color in these -- particularly how the white stands out. I think I will be trying this with my younger students later this year. thanks!!

  4. Great lesson! It looks so sophisticated for the younger students! This lesson made me think of a lesson I once saw another art teacher do, where she had the students created a line drawing of a face using black string instead of marker or charcoal.

  5. Correction: it was black yarn, string would be impossible! :)


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