I recently got my hands on Discovering Great Artists - Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great Masters by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga (affiliate link) and WOW, is it packed with inspiration!
The authors have divided the many projects into four categories: Long, Long Ago (Renaissance and Post-Renaissance); Sunny and Free (Impressionists and Postimpressionists); Wild and Wacky (Expressionists, Abstract, Abstract Expressionists, Cubists, Dadaists, and Surrealists); and Art Today, Every Way (Pop, Op, Modern, Photojournalists, and Children's Book Illustrators). There are 15-20 artists and projects they inspire in each category. Each includes handy icons to show the difficulty level, prep time, media used, and artist style. Even if you never made any of the projects, this book provides an outstanding summary of the major artists in each style.
I decided to start with an artist from the Long, Long Ago category: El Greco. I learned that his real name was Domenikos Theotokopoulos and that he left Crete in Greece at a young age to study in Venice, Italy. He became well-known after painting religious scenes for a cathedral in Toledo, Spain. The tall figures he painted appear stretched out, with their features much longer and thinner than real people are. El Greco is considered one of the first great artists who thought expressing feelings in artwork was more important than showing reality.
Here is the project I made inspired by El Greco:
The book says to find a person in a magazine for this project, but I thought a self portrait would be more fun. Since I got a free package of photos every year that I taught, I have zillions of large photos of myself that I've kept for no reason other than to use for projects like this.
Following the instructions, I cut the photo across my forehead, under my eyes, under my nose, and across my chin. I added a bonus cut across my neck. Then I glued the photo strips to a piece of white cardstock with a gap between each.
Then I used my colored pencils to fill in the gaps. It was much harder than I expected to color match. I obviously need a lot of practice and a better understanding of color theory. As you can see, I tried different blends of pencils for each section of skin and hair. Some are better than others and none are great. Honestly, I wasn't too motivated to put a lot of time into it, which was part of the problem.
This was a fun, albeit creepy, project. I may have to try something like this again. I still have a whole lot of school photos to use up!