Discovering our Inner Sandra Silberzweig

Browsing through Pinterest one day, I found this post:

And I got so excited!  I had never heard of Sandra Silberzweig before.  If you haven’t you are in for a treat.I was jazzed upon learning about Sandra, simply because a) she’s a female artist, and b) she’s alive.  Most of the artists we study in our little art corner are male and passed away long ago.  Kids, for some reason, always ask if the artist is alive, and I have to tell them, “No.”  Then they always ask how they died.  Ugh.  Sometimes, I can answer this question easily.  Piet Mondrian died of pneumonia, Kandinsky from a stroke, but others not so much. Car crash (Pollock), AIDS (Haring), suicide (Van Gogh – though I believe the theory he was shot by a teenage boy)….. I try to stay clear of answering this question as much as possible.  So, yes, when I found out she’s alive, I got excited.

I really like Sandra’s art.  The kids do too.  We discussed what makes her artwork special and came up with this list: great use of shapes, asymmetrical (don’t need to make both eyes match at all), bright colors, and lots of different kinds of lines.

The above-mentioned blog also contained step-by-step instructions on how to teach her artwork as well and it was tremendously helpful in breaking her work down into teachable bits.  We started with the U shape to make the face.  Then we divided up the face by making “the candy-cane nose”.  Eyebrows came next, and making those symmetrical was optional. We created football-shaped eyes with a horizontal line in the middle.  Then we made the upside down rainbows for the irises.

The rest was up to the students.  They could put flowers in hair, on the face, make necklaces, do line designs, fun eyelashes, etc. The only other thing I asked was they make one side of the face primarily using warm colors and the other cool colors.  I say primarily because I don’t particularly like faces that are completely divided up like that.  To do this, we used the color wheel, which I have plenty.  Each student got to have one right at their desk.


I also used Cassie Stephen’s YouTube video to help teach analogous colors to the students.  Turned out, they learned more about how to blend chalk. At first, I was a little offended when kids said, “Oh, now I know how to blend.” What?  I’ve been teaching you all this time!  But then I realized I look at tons of videos all the time from various artists and art teachers and I learn so much all the time from them too.  Told my Teaching Ego to go bah-bye. Besides, I love Cassie.  I think I’d die if I ever got to meet her in person, simply because she’s so fashionable and I look like I just woke up on my good days.

Here are some works in progress.


As a final part, students could retrace over their line designs with either a white or black oil pastel.  I love how they turned out.  Such amazingly beautiful artwork.



























Author: Sonia Chapman

I am an art teacher, living in the Middle East, following my passion for art, teaching little children about the finer things in life, and loving every bit of it.

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