Portraits of a Hero
Over the past few weeks, students in Billy Claire’s seventh grade art class have been drawing portraits of their personal heroes. They have been working on the technical skills of drawing the human face while making connections between their own identities and the qualities and achievements of their portrait subjects.
In their sketchbooks, Billy asked his students to brainstorm a list of people they look up to and are inspired by. Once they had chosen a personal hero to focus on, they used their laptop to find a good portrait in Google images. Students opened the image in preview and used the picture on the screen as the model for their drawing. Billy wanted his students to pay particular attention to the shape of the subject’s head, their hair and incorporate as many details from the image as possible. The personal heroes that students chose represented a wide range of interests, from athletes like Jenny Finch, Roger Federer, and Mai Murakami to public figures like Michelle Obama, and artists and authors like Stan Lee, Bob Ross, and Tui Sutherland. “I love the personal heroes project because you never know who someone looks up to,” says Billy. “It’s always surprising and an insight into the personalities of my students. I also get to learn about people that I may never have heard of and find inspiration from my students.”
After students had completed their portraits, Billy asked his students to write a reflection on why they chose the person they did. Students offered insights into what their heroes mean to them and the qualities that they were hoping to show through their portraits. Seventh grader Lumi C. drew a portrait of Tui Sutherland, author of the Wings of Fire fantasy series. Reflecting on her work, Lumi wrote, “I am amazed by how prolific she is and dedicated to the wonderful world she has invited us all to explore alongside her great dragon protagonists. I hope you can see her creativity beaming, her gears churning, and obviously, her happiness through this drawing.”