I recently turned to the art of Laurel Burch as inspiration for a children's Saturday art class in creating Pet Selfies. We looked at several examples of her cat and dog paintings and discussed the following (which covers the areas of art criticism and aesthetics):
1. Describe the animals portrayed and their identifying characteristics
2. Discuss Burch's use of color in her animal paintings
3. Look at Burch's use of line, shape and pattern to create surface texture and decoration
4. How did Burch treat the background of these paintings?
5. How does looking at her work make you feel? What kinds of moods are created in these works?
I showed this group of 9-12 year old students a picture of a photo booth like the one I used to climb into to get a strip of pictures of myself with my friends.
The main objectives of this project:
1. What kind of picture would you see if your pet took selfies in an old fashioned photo booth? How would your pet pose (extreme close up, upside down, grinning, in profile, etc)? What kinds of emotions would your pet express?
2. What colors would you use to paint your pet?
3. How would you create surface decoration on your pet and in the background?
pictures of their own pets as reference material
pencils and erasers
5 x 7" heavy white paper (3 per student)
5 1/2" x 22" background paper (1 per student, I used black)
watercolors, brushes, water containers
- After discussing Burch's works, have students spend 1o minutes creating their 3 sketches (papers turned in vertical position), a different pose on each. Add a few lines to indicate type of backgrounds.
- With oil pastels, draw the animals and add decorative patterns both on the animals and in the backgrounds. Use a variety of colors for variation.
- Paint with watercolors over the oil pastels. Although several of the students were familiar with the resist method having used crayons, they were delighted with the vivid colors of the oil pastels.
- Allow briefly to dry and then arrange all 3 pet portraits on the black paper, gluing in place when final arrangement is determined.
- Set all completed works out and briefly discuss:
1. Use of different kinds of poses
2. Use of decorations, patterns and textures on the animals and backgrounds
3. Expressions on animals' faces