Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Fernand Leger Paintings

By Agnes (Year 2)

Lesson Background:
I saw this lesson on Mary Making a couple of years ago.  I tried it out with a group of Year 3 students with mixed results.  This year I wanted to give the lesson another go, so I changed a few of the elements- I changed the A3 paper to A4 because I found the Year 3 kids had trouble positioning the facial features on such a large piece of paper.  I also decided to use black markers instead of black oil pastel to draw the faces because we had a lot of smudges last time.  I think they have turned out really well this time- Well done, 1/2B!

Lesson Equipment (per child):
Acrylic paint (red, yellow, orange, blue, green)
A medium sized paintbrush
A lead pencil
A rubber
A sheet of A4 art paper
A black permanent marker

Lesson Steps:
1.  We explored the life and art of French artist, Fernand Leger, discussing his use of colour, line and shape.  We also considered how he managed to create strong emotions in his portraits with the use of such simple lines. 
2.  The children used a lead pencil to lightly draw some shapes in the background of their artwork.
3.  They then painted these shapes using brightly coloured acrylic paint (a mix of primary and secondary colours).
4.  We then left the artworks to dry for a few hours.
5.  Next, I drew some sample faces on the whiteboard and we explored different ways to draw eyes and eyebrows to represent different emotions (e.g. the iris hanging from the top of the eye for a sad face) and how to leave a white patch in each iris to look like light. 
6.  We also looked at different ways to draw noses, lips and hands and discussed how these different styles of drawing contributed to the mood of the artwork.
7.  The children lightly drew their portraits over their coloured backgrounds.  They were allowed to choose whether to draw just the facial features or the head as well.  During our discussions we talked about symmetry in faces and how to use symmetry to check if they had drawn accurately.
8.  The children traced over the portraits with black permanent marker.
9.  The children rubbed out any left over pencil marks and we backed the paintings onto black cardboard.

NOTE:  The first part of the lesson (up until the end of step 3) took about an hour.  Then the children finished it off that same afternoon in another hour block.  My students made 2 portraits each in this time.

Student Artworks:

By Ben (Year 2)

By Serina (Year 2)

By Paige (Year 2)
By Kayla (Year 2)

By Nive (Year 2)

By Ella B (Year 1)

By Jeff (Year 2)
By Angela (Year 1)

By Angie (Year 2)

By Austin (Year 2)
By Ben (Year 2)

1/2B's fabulous artworks


  1. I loved this artwork. I hope my class can do another artwork like this one soon.

  2. awesome artwork 1/2B and Mrs baker!!!!!

    1. Thanks Charlie- I think my class did a great job too!

  3. This is very inspiring! I am planning to try this with my Year 1 class. Did you just use a regular sized tip permanent marker? Thanks for your detailed lesson guide, it is very helpful.

    1. I usually use black permanent Sharpie markers for outlining with kids, but with littlies, a bit thicker is probably better (I think I used thick fine-point permanent black markers for my Year 1/2s for this particular activity- like the thickness of your typical whiteboard marker), because it covers the inevitable wiggles and lack of fine motor control issues! Good luck and enjoy!

    2. I should advise too, that if I was doing this activity again, I would probably get the kids NOT to draw the coloured shape outlines in lead pencil first (just paint the shapes straight on and leave to dry), unless you have relaly good quality paint. Unfortunately our school acrylic paint is quite weak and watery, and so you could still see the lead pencil marks through it, even with multiple coats!

  4. Just thought I would let you know my year 1's did a pretty good job with this. After reading your suggestions about not using lead pencil for the coloured shapes, I asked my students to do that in yellow pencil. They could see it enough to use it as a guide but it did not show through like the lead does. I wish we could have done the facial features in yellow too but I don't think the children would have seen them well enough to trace over with markers. Getting them to press lightly and draw big features was the trickiest part but we have some lovely portraits to sell at our school fete now. One of my students was doing some free drawing and he added blocks of colour to it like Leger. He said, " that famous dude taught me how to do that."!!!!

  5. That's great to hear! Love your idea of using yellow pencil- might steal that one myself! Yes, getting young children to "fill" the paper is always a challenge. I often use finger measurement instructions (e.g. "The eyes should be at least 3 finger spaces wide and 2 finger spaces high")and get them to draw little dots on their paper to show these measurements before they draw the actual feature within/around these dot measurements. Thanks for letting me know how the lesson went- glad you got some great art for your fete out of it too!