Tessellation Self-Portraits by 7th Grade

(This Project comes from Mrs. Kamp’s Canvas)

Affectionately referred to as the “forever project,” this multi-part lesson combines the study of tessellations with digital media resources and acrylic painting. First, students learned about the Islamic origins of tessellations, evidence of which can be identified in the tile work of Mosques. Tessellations can also be seen in colonial American quilt work, as well as the artwork of M.C. Escher.  

For this lesson, students began by creating their own shape to tessellate based on a hexagon. This shape was repeated and painted in three different colors, for the background of their image. Students had the option of choosing either warm or cool colors for this portion of the assignment.

Next, students learned to use the “threshold” tool in Photoshop to transform a photograph of themselves into pure black and white. This image was copied to transparency paper and projected. Students traced the projection onto paper, then painted their self-portrait using the opposite set of colors from their background.

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