Grant Wood (1891-1942) was an American artist best known for his paintings of rural American life. My students were fascinated by the story of how his father died when Grant was only ten years old, and his mother had to move her family from their home on the farm to the big city. This was a hard move for Grant, who missed his farm animals and his life in the country. He felt out of place at his new school, where some kids even made fun of him. But he kept his sense of humor, and along with his talent for drawing, he made new friends and things got better for him.
Grant Wood’s painting “American Gothic” inspired this special self-portrait. I had fun showing my 4th grade students a print of “American Gothic” and having them guess who it was that Grant Wood painted in that picture. No one guessed it, but that’s not surprising…. it was their family dentist and his sister, Nan! Who would ever guess that??! He was actually first inspired by the Gothic-style window in a farm house that he saw, and then he looked for the right people to go with it!
For our project, students brought in a photo of their house along with a photo of one other family member (or their family dentist!) to include in their portrait. We first drew with pencil, then traced our lines with Sharpie before using colored pencils to add color. The colored pencils didn’t work out so well, as you can see by the scratchy lines, but the portrait concept is one I will definitely do again! Follow my tips for drawing successful portraits here and add just a section of the house in the background for a new twist on the traditional self-portrait project!