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Sometimes it's okay to play with your food: An Art Lesson Exploring Jason Mecier's Work

Updated: Aug 1, 2020

Photo and Artwork courtesy of Jason Mecier

Every Thursday at the School/Summer Camp of Mommy, we learn about a new artist. It’s the day of the week we look forward to the most because it’s always so much fun! Most weeks I try to connect our artist to the weekly theme. So for example, when we studied flowers, we studied the work of Georgia O’Keefe and when we studied France we studied Monet, etc.

For our Food Groups Week, I knew I wanted to study an artist that uses food as an art medium. I found the work of pop artist, Jason Mecier who has a series of celebrity portraits made out of food including a series of the Real Housewives made out of pasta. I knew I could create a fun art project around his work.

To start we looked at this quick video about Jason Mecier and then looked at some specific images of his work. As you'll see in the video, the critics are a bit mixed on his work, but I think it's fun, extremely detailed, and can be easily appreciated by children. Mr. J loved it!

Side Note: Mecier's Kevin Bacon work (made out of bacon obviously), made me laugh so much. I've officially been in quarantine too long!

Before we embarked on making our own food art, we talked about what we saw in Mecier's work. We talked about how the food adds dimension and texture to the portraits. We compared his work to another portrait, the famous Mona Lisa to discuss how using a different medium created a very different work of art. Then I asked Mr. J some questions about Mecier's work.

Some questions we discuss when viewing art are:

  • How did the art make you feel?

  • What did the artist use to make their art?

  • What is interesting about it?

  • Does the art remind you of anything?

  • What do you like about the work? Is there anything you don’t like about it?

I'm always so impressed by Mr. J's responses to these questions and it's reinforced my belief that art is such an important topic for children to explore and learn from a young age.

Our Art Project

Mr. J has been particularly interested in self portraits lately so I decided a pasta self portrait would be fun and fit well with Mecier's portrait art.

A couple of years ago we had attempted to paint pasta with finger paint and it was a mess and the pasta cracked when it dried. It just didn’t work. This time I decided to dye different pasta shapes using food coloring and it worked great. There was no real mess to clean up after we were done!

After we talked about Mecier's work we took a piece of paper and sketched a portrait using a pencil. Mr. J drew himself before his quarantine haircut which to him meant long curly, wild hair.

Then I introduced the pasta. We outlined his drawing in glue and he used pasta to fill in the face. We talked about the different shapes of the pasta and how different shapes resemble different parts of the face, i.e. if you put two elbow pastas together look a lot like circles which are great for the eyes, and the rotini looks like curls! Other than this conversation, I let him have fun and the finished product is one of my favorite things he’s ever made! It has so much dimension and expression.

How to Make Your Own!

Dyed Pasta Portraits

  • Pasta of varying shapes

  • Rubbing Alcohol

  • Liquid Food Coloring

  • Ziplock Bags

  • Wax Paper

  • Cardstock or Cardboard

  • Pencil

  1. Separate your pasta into different ziplock bags. I decided to do three colors so I mixed the shapes together and separated into three different bags.

  2. Add about a tablespoon of rubbing alcohol to each bag. Close the bag and mix through.

  3. Add one drop of food coloring to each bag, close and mix through. Add additional drops of food coloring as needed to reach your desired color.

  4. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

  5. Pour contents of each bag onto the wax paper and let dry.

Sketch a portrait using pencil onto cardboard or cardstock. (We used regular sketch paper but the pasta is really heavy. It’ll work better with a heavier paper.)

Quick Tip: When I first introduced portraits it was helpful to have a cosmetic mirror on the table so that the kids could look at their faces as they were drawing them.

Outline the portrait with glue and instruct the child to use the pasta to add to their picture.

Store leftover pasta in a Ziplock bag. You can use it to make jewelry, mandalas, etc. The possibilities are endless!

If you try this lesson plan with your kids, comment below or post a picture and tag me on social media. I'd love to see their work!

Have fun playing with your food!

-School of Mommy

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