Lincoln School parents can purchase mugs, tote bags, T-shirts and ornaments that feature personal cartoon self-portraits of their children before the holiday season as part of the annual Square 1 Art fundraiser that benefits PTA-sponsored projects and activities.
Perkins School parents will be able to do the same in February or March.
Courtney Dentel, visual art leader for Newark Central School District, decided children’s self-portraits would work as annual fundraisers at both schools.
“I chose to do self-portrait cartoons this year for each grade, because children’s self-portraits make amazing keepsakes to cherish through the years and to look back on as the children grow into adults,” she said. “I also think having each grade do the same activity has served as a powerful assessment tool to see where each child is in their artistic development. According to Viktor Lowenfeld, children who are 3 to 8 years old are moving out of the scribble stage, and through the preschematic and schematic stages of artistic development.”
Lowenfeld was a professor of art education at Pennsylvania State University whose ideas have influenced many art educators. He emphasized ways in which children at different stages of artistic development “should be stimulated by appropriate media and themes, and … the curriculum … guided mainly by developmental considerations.”
“This common activity of creating self-portraits across the board has helped me see where students currently are and where I can help them develop,” Dentel said. “Just as we go through different stages of physical, cognitive and emotional development, we also progress through artistic development stages.”
As preparation for the initiative, Dentel had her classes at both schools explore self-portraits created by famous artists as well as the idea of selfies in today’s world.
“We then examined some familiar cartoons to see how cartoon drawings differ from realistic drawings, paintings or photographs,” Dentel said. “We noticed that many cartoon artists create their characters with very large heads, often larger than the bodies, and use simple shapes for facial features and the body. Students were then asked to look at themselves closely in the mirror to notice all the details that make them an individual person. Their goal was to try and capture those details in their drawings so that the viewers would be able to tell that their drawing was a self-portrait in the style of a cartoon.”
Universal pre-kindergarten and kindergarten classes made tissue paper prints for their backgrounds, and first- and second-grade classes made bubble print backgrounds. Their self-portrait drawings were outlined with black marker, cut out and glued onto their backgrounds.
“I think our students did a fabulous job,” Dentel said. “Each mark they used to capture themselves was intentional and meaningful, even in the most unrecognizable self-portraits. When we can understand the different stages children progress through artistically, we can better appreciate their work. I’m hopeful that this will be a great fundraiser for both schools.”
And what did the children think about making self-portrait cartoons?
Mackenzie VanCuren, a first-grader in Lora Prebalick’s class at Lincoln School, said, “It was actually very fun. I tried to make it like me and it actually worked. My favorite part was blowing bubbles and flipping a paper on top of the bubbles.”
Her classmate Onika Hill said, “After we blew the bubbles, we waited a few days, then we drew and colored the cartoon, and then we glued it on the bubble paper. My cartoon looks like me, because I have curly hair and I drew curly hair. My favorite part was using three colors of bubbles.”