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Raggedy portraits.

"My grandmother had them, my folks had them, and I have them too," hummed my first grader as she hugged my set of Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls. Being one of the first of three generations to receive a Christmas set of the strange dolls with orange hair and triangle noses, I was bemused by the fact that these dolls, and the stories about them, have enchanted children for over a half-century. These icons of the doll world make a perfect approach to portraiture for young children. The large round heads, rectangular bodies, and easily drawn limbs are the stuff from which cartoons are made. They have been handled, hugged and held until the familiarity of their shapes are second nature to children.

Portraying a Tradition

My first graders beamed at the idea of making portraits of them. Before beginning, we talked of the family tradition of Raggedy Ann and Andy, while the dolls themselves sat on a small old fashioned ladder-back chair at the front of the room. This would be a perfect way to review line and shape elements and introduce portraiture. We also discussed how a portrait was different from other kinds of paintings, and why people might wish to have a portrait of a doll. I had placed photographs of dolls and reproductions of artists' doll portraits on the chalkboard. Holding up Raggedy Andy, I asked what shapes had been used when making his body. The answer was simple--circles and rectangles. Drawing these dolls would be a natural, easy process for the students.

Supplies were passed out quickly: a 4" (10 cm) square scrap of construction paper, 12 x 18" (30 x 46 cm) white construction paper, a piece of chalk, and a wide, black magic marker. The children cut circles as wide as possible from the squares of construction scrap paper, then moved them around on their white paper to find a good location for the dolls' heads in the upper half of the paper. They traced around the shape with yellow chalk. It was important to encourage the children to make the the head large, as well as the rest of the body.

Next we looked to see that Raggedy Andy's trunk was made from a flat rectangular shape. The arms were made in two parts, and one part could bend to wave. I moved the dolls' bodies in various positions, then my students quickly sketched the arms and legs in chalk where they wished. Chalk allows mistakes without erasing. Now it was time to make those yellow chalk lines come alive with emphasis! Drawing around the outside of the chalk lines with magic markers enlarged the shapes slightly and achieved a loose natural look for the figures.

My students drew the triangle nose in the middle of the face. They observed that everyone knows that the dolls have large black buttons for eyes. I set the pictures along the chalkboard so the children could enjoy them for a few minutes before they left. They were all excited at the excellent overall quality of the drawings, and began to plan what they would do with them when they were finished.

The Finishing Touches

The next class period found us finishing our drawings with magic markers. The students added thick and heavy hair over the lines they had made on the foreheads. Some children chose to color the face and arms with oil pastels, creating a nice contrast against the white paper background. They all knew exactly how they wanted the clothes to be colored, and created a variety of interesting combinations. A showing of these portraits in our halls brought calls from parents who asked me to hold the paintings until they could pick them up--they didn't want them to go home in backpacks.
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Title Annotation:painting Raggedy Ann, Andy dolls
Author:Tetreault, Frances L.
Publication:School Arts
Date:Feb 1, 1993
Previous Article:An Illustrated Guide to Caricature.
Next Article:Art as expression.

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