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Drawing Faces Like Rembrandt

CC Cycle 2 Fine Arts Week 13In Classical Conversations we spend six weeks studying amazing artists and doing fun art projects to help us remember those artists. This takes place in the third quarter of our fine arts program. So, in week 13 of cycle 2, we’ll be studying Rembrandt.

Rembrandt was famous for all the people he drew and painted. He liked to look in a mirror, make funny faces at himself, and then draw them. This is how he taught himself how to paint specific emotions on the people in his paintings.

The Original Project

One suggestion for a Rembrandt project is to give the students mirrors, ask them to make a silly face and then draw that silly facial expression. I decided this project was going to be too difficult and discouraging for most of the students in my community. It’s hard enough to draw a human face, and an unusual expression is even harder. Drawing from a live model who’s probably not holding very still or maintaining the same facial expression, in the 20 minutes we have available, seemed over the top difficult to me.

Our Rembrandt Project

In our Classical Conversations community, we will be walking the students through how to draw certain facial expressions varying only the mouth, eyes, and eyebrows. We’ll have the students start with pre-drawn ovals as you see here. Of course, not all our tutors are confident drawing facial expressions so I made a tutor cheat sheet that points out the important elements of each expression. The tutor will model each face, step by step, on a whiteboard or paper while the students follow along. Check out the adorable faces my 6 and 9 year old children drew when I tried out this lesson with them!!

If time permits, the tutors will encourage the students to experiment with facial expressions in free hand drawing or add accessories, like ears and hair.

It’s a lot of fun to draw all these silly expressions. Once the students see how much different the angle of an eyebrow makes, they’ll be ready to carry this knowledge over to drawing a more complete portrait at home.

Here’s the Full Lesson Plan.

I wrote this whole lesson plan out for my tutors and for you! It includes everything you need. This 12 page lesson plan includes the following:

  • A condensed background on the artist,
  • 7 Printable pictures of the artists’ work (including 2 self-portraits),
  • A pair of carefully crafted sentences about Rembrandt (ideal for memorization),
  • Vocabulary words and definitions
  • Materials list
  • Simple instructions that any artistically challenged teacher can understand and use,
  • Suggestions for scaling the project to different ages,
  • An ovals template and 2 Tutor Cheat Sheets
  • References to the pertinent Classical Conversations Acts and Facts cards.

Purchase the full Rembrandt lesson plan here.

Drawing Facial Expressions like Rembrandt

You might also be interested in the flashcards and mini-posters I’ve created for our study of Rembrandt and the other amazing artists we’re studying this quarter!!

Homeschool Fine Arts

Flashcards and Mini-Posters of Baroque – Impressionist Artists

Want More?

This blog post is part of a seven part series about the amazing artists we study in cycle 2 of Classical Conversations. Here are links to the whole series:

  1. Saving Christmas with Amazing Artist Lesson Plans
  2. Drawing Facial Expressions Like Rembrandt
  3. Drawing Botanicals like Linnaeus
  4. Painting Landscapes Like Gainsborough
  5. Plein-Air Painting like Monet
  6. Capturing Action Like Degas
  7. Glob it on like Morisot




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