You may have seen the teasers for this, but about two weeks ago, we did an underwater photo shoot. I may be doing an article for The Art of Ed in the future detailing the entire process, so I will just do a quick overview here before showing all the glorious pictures.
My students, my student teacher, and I were all sitting around brainstorming one day about different things we could do for portraits and figure drawing. The idea of underwater photos came up, and we knew immediately we had to pursue the idea.
First, I had to convince my Activities Director that we needed to a) buy an underwater camera, and b) take over the pool for an afternoon. He’s told me a few times that he’s not an art guy, so I prefaced it with this statement: “I know you aren’t an art guy, so you won’t understand how great this idea is, but here’s what we need to do . . .” Luckily, he’s one of those great administrators that supports teachers and what they want to do, so we got the go-ahead. We had a little bit of leftover grant money in the art club budget, so I just had to find an inexpensive camera that would do the trick. I got the purchase order, hit up the camera store, and we were good to go.
It was an art club activity, so it was a small crew–about 15 kids there, 9 of which were brave enough to jump into the pool. Almost everyone did it fully clothed, and even better, some with costumes. We started with some jumps off the board, getting photos of people just as they entered the water and then as they swam toward the camera:
The better shots, though, came from our setup, planning, and props; Kids brought clothes they wanted to wear and objects to enhance the shots. We moved to the shallow end, and that’s where we got a lot of the best work. A tea party, some graffiti, a toaster, some blankets and stuffed animals, and a few other choice items as well.
One thing I really wanted to work was a cookies and milk shot. We painted the inside of a clear plastic cup with white acrylic to look like milk, and we spent a good part of the morning making cookies waterproof:
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out. We tried to move quickly, but even cookies with 4 layers of gloss medium have a short shelf life once they’re submerged :) You can kind of see the cup and hints of a few cookies in Kelsey’s picture, but it really did not turn out how she wanted at all.
But Mary’s idea of brushing her hair underwater worked even better than expected:
Alex wanted to dress like Caesar and look as though he had been assassinated and was floating in the water. That turned out about as well as could be expected–he looks incredibly dead.
I told him that when he creates his drawing, he needs to call it “The Tides of March”. And if you don’t think that’s one of the best puns ever made, well . . . I’m just not sure we can be friends anymore.
Lastly, I thought some professional looking shots for me were in order:
Now, it’s just a matter of seeing what needs to be turned into some paintings and drawings and see what we can get from there. I’m excited about the possibilities and the challenges that come with drawing these figures, because it should be a great project.
I’ll leave you with a couple from my colleague Lindsey and I. Here’s a little Kung Fu and an (incredibly quickly Photoshopped) American Gothic parody. Thanks for checking things out!