RETNA and El Mac
3rd grade started off the year learning about RETNA and El Mac. Both are street artists from Los Angeles. RETNA .
RETNA is an artist who has created his own language using symbols. His symbols are influenced by different languages from around the world. He mixes all of these different languages together to create a new language that nobody can read, but everybody can relate to because of a recognition of some of the symbols.
El Mac is an artist who creates portraits of people who he sees in everyday. His portraits are typically painted monochromatically. This means that he uses only one color to depict the portraits. He also uses short spray paint strokes which creates a line effect.
At times, RETNA and El Mac will collaborate to create a mural together. RETNA typically makes the background with El Mac incorporating a portrait on top.
Students started off with a worksheet that had them create their own symbols. They had to create a symbol that represented their name, seven symbols that represented their favorite things to do in their free time, and 10 symbols that represented their favorite qualities about their selves. I emphasized that their symbols should be simple because they would have to repeat them over and over and over. It was their choice if they wanted their symbols to be more representational or more abstract.
Next, students cut out 3 different sized circles and created what looked like a target. Then they added these symbols to the target. In the smallest circle in the center, they repeated their name symbol over and over. In the medium sized circle, they repeated the seven things that they like to do in their free time. And in the larger circle, they repeated the 10 symbols that represent their favorite qualities about themselves. If they wanted to go above and beyond my expectations, they could also add these symbols to the grey background.
The next part of the project we learned about self-portraits. I had them do a drawing without my help of the best self-portrait they could draw. After they were finished, I gave them a crash course in facial proportions and where things belong on our face and how big they should be. Students were amazed at how much better they got in one class. After drawing their self-portrait, they used a Sharpie to trace their lines and then he erased any leftover pencil lines. Then they chose one color to make marks all over their self-portrait. This was meant to be representative of El Mac’s line work on his portraits. Students had the liberty to choose squiggly lines, geometric lines or cross hatching. Lastly, students used crayons and colored pencils of the same color that they had previously used to color in their self-portrait. This created a monochromatic look.
Students were a little bummed that their self-portrait covered up so many of their symbols. We talked about how WE knew how much hard work had gone into those backgrounds and symbols and that it didn't matter if it was covered.
Harmony and Consolidated Elementary Art Teacher in Milton, WI. UW-Eau Claire graduate. WAEA President. Apple Teacher.