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Creating Half-Portraits Helps Instill Patience in Center Line 10th Grade Artists

The eyes are perfectly spaced apart, the nose is right where it should be. Lips, ears, and cheeks: check. The hair? Well, that’s a bit more challenging.
 
Tenth-grade students in Elaine Currie’s art class at Center Line Preparatory Academy had a big challenge in front of them: create half-portraits of themselves based on enlarged photographs split down the middle. One side is the photograph, the other is open to their interpretation.
 
“When I first started this project, they all said, ‘we can’t do this, there’s no way we can do this!’” Currie said. “I remember saying ‘you know, if you follow the process, go through the steps, you’ll be amazed in the end,’ and they were.”

The results show the great effort of detailed eyebrows, highlights on lips and noses, and shading on skin.
“They had a hard time with hair,” Currie said. “I showed them three or four different videos on how to do hair and braids. It was very time-consuming, and they would get a little frustrated so I would have to go help them a little bit.”

Currie noted the challenge of motivating older students when passion comes so easily to younger artists.
“The only classes that really get into art are third, fourth and fifth grade,” Currie said. “I’ve been teaching for 17 years and those are the classes that, when you give them something to do, they just want to keep doing it.”

As the project continued into a second week, Currie saw a change taking place. Students were making positive comments about each other’s work. They shared tips about creating small details. They were invested in finishing the project.

When they were finished, their portraits were displayed in the hallway for all to see, and Currie has seen a difference in her class.

“I’m noticing they’re taking more time now; you can instill a little more patience in them with these projects.”
 
Center Line Preparatory Academy is part of National Heritage Academies, a charter school management company in Grand Rapids, Mich. with 98 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.