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Chuck Close, the great American painter, describes his unique process of making impossibly massive and hyper-realistic portraits and how he uses his body as a tool. Close suffers from face blindness, which makes his expertise as a portraitist all the more staggering. Students examine themselves closely. They identify what has shaped them and what is important to them today. We are all composed of tiny moments which create the bigger picture of us.  What do we like? What do we enjoy the most? Who introduced us to these things? With whom do you spend time?  All of these small moments create our own portrait.  We all need to look closely at each other, learn from each other, share our experiences. Many factors keep us all at a distance which is unfortunate.  

Way-y-y-y-y-y Beyond Description

We know, we know — everyone is unique.  No one in the world who has ever lived is exactly like us and, until cloning becomes popular, that is the way it will be. However, there are qualities that each of us has that others share – athletic, kind-hearted, thoughtful, spirited.  There are also some that are truly individual to us – perspicacious, pedantic, or idiosyncratic.

In fact, students came up with 100 adjectives that describe themselves. This was their first task.  But as you know, we all have become the persons we are thanks to others whom you have come into contact – family, friends, teachers, strangers, even book characters!

So our second task was to complete a short essay describing both an individual and an incident that has made us the person we are – in effect that explains the adjectives we chose to describe ourselves.

Then came the most revealing, creative and interpretive part: students took all 100 adjectives and created an illustration using only these adjectives that were connected, somehow, with the essay. Students also integrated technology to help “shape” their stories.

Taking this further, students identify 100 adjectives and at least 100 illustrations that describe them best. Using this data, they display themselves in a mosaic using a similar concept as Chuck Close.  Although, his works are all labor intensive.  Technology software makes the digit portraits too easily for us.   Nonetheless, download Andrea’s Mosaic software to create mosaics from images.  There are free apps you can use like Photo Mosaica. Create mosaics for characters, historical figures, teachers, coaches, or family members.

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