Art Class provides opportunities to develop patience, discipline, and other virtues of the art students at Laramie High School.

Students are currently assigned to draw their own “self-portraits.” This a common assessment assigned to students of 2D Art: Drawing.

“I want them to focus on the lights and darks of the values that they’re using to get something to look realistic,” art teacher Shelley Miller said.

A picture of a student is printed out, and drawn grids on the paper, to determine how the proportions must look in order to make the task less overwhelming. Then, on a blank piece of paper, they draw grids as well. On those grids, they will start drawing their self-portraits.

Students who felt shy about doing their self-portrait had the option to do an alternative. They were given an option to choose to use a child photograph of themselves or create a landscape drawing.

“I learned to do something that I’m not usually active doing, it surprised me. Just, it’s turning out easy after you figure out how it’s done,” student Samuel Robertson said.

Students struggled with the self-portrait assignment. Some struggled with facial proportions and shading. A lot of students were overwhelmed when Miller announced the assessment.

“I was a little stressed out because I’m not very good at portraits. Because I have never really done it before and I’m not good at shading or realism, so I was stressed out,” student Nellie Newman said.

With a challenging common assessment, students invested more time and effort in a drawing. Students invested more in learning art.

“I went home, I looked up some references. I just studied the images and how [they] fit together,” Robertson said.

Some students worked on their self-portraits for around two to six class meetings. Some took two block days to complete the work. Some of them are still working on their portraits.

The students felt good once they had completed their self-portrait. To them, it was a big accomplishment.

“I felt really pleased with myself…it is the first time I have done a portrait. I think that it came out better than I would have expected it to,” Newman said.

Miller also thought that her students did well on the assessment she assigned. She was proud of what the students accomplished.

“It takes a lot of courage to do something like what we’re doing with the self-portrait and it takes a lot of courage to jump in and do a new technique. Because people are sensitive about their art skills, trying a new skill and doing a good job can be a little daunting task for some people. So, we try and keep respect in here. People are appreciative of what others are going through and their attempts to become better artists. I have got to take my hat off to these kids,” Miller said.

The next assessment for 2D: Art will be figure model drawing.