Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Shadow Self-Portraits- RES

Visual art and light concepts are totally inseparable. Which is why, beginning in Kindergarten and through fourth grade, I work with students to understand how light affects all the aspects of how we see.

In this science and art connection, first grade RES artists investigated how and why shadows are made.

Students noticed how shadows are produced when light is blocked by an object. Any object can produce a shadow, but here the object blocking light from getting to a surface is the student him or herself.

 First grade artists drew their bodies doing physically active things such as running, jumping, and dancing. Self-portraits and a piece of black paper were cut out simultaneously to produce the shadow.

Students included a light source they chose- the sun, a lamp, the moon, etc.  Shadows and light sources are always on opposite sides of an object, so students tried to arrange their cut pieces to show where they think the shadow would fall in the scene they drew.

 Instruction included observing and drawing the shapes that make up our bodies to try to create more proportionally accurate self-portraits.

 The one above makes total sense developmentally- the shadow and light are on opposite sides of the person, but the shadow is suspended in the sky instead of laying on the ground- the surface on which, in reality, it would fall.  But remember, these artists are seven years old- some are still six, in fact! 

One of my favorite parts actually is that this is the perfect project in which to embrace the much-maligned "corner sun." Come check these out in the hallway outside the art room!


  1. I've done a similar version of this project many times, and in fact I believe I've posted it on my blog. A great companion to the lesson is from Robert Louis Stevenson's "A Child's Garden of Verses". I believe the poem is called "My Shadow".

  2. Thanks Phyl for the suggestion! I always enjoy adding books and poems into my teaching. If you have a link to your posting, I'd love to read it!

  3. Here's a link to a post. It's from 5 years ag, when my blog was a baby, so the post is short!