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4th and 5th Grade Profile Drawings: In the Style of Egyptians, Mixtec Codex and Duncan Tonatiuh

Profile Drawings of Horses

My students were treated to a visit by illustrator Duncan Tonatiuh.  He is both Mexican and American. He grew up in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. His images are inspired by ancient Mexican art, especially the Mixtec codex of the 14th and 15th centuries. Like the people and animals in the codex, the figures in his illustrations are always drawn in profile– their entire bodies are usually shown and their ears often look like a number three. He also collages textures and photographic elements into his images electronically, using computer software.

You can read my previous blog post all about his artwork and his visit to my school.

Here is an example of the Mixtec Codex:

Here is a picture from one of Duncan Tonatiuh’s books.

If you teach about Diego Rivera, Duncan Tonatiuh has a book about his life and art that you may be interested in.

The profile view is also similar to the ancient Egyptian style of painting, which has characteristically rigid and stylized.  The Egyptians showed the human form from the most familiar angle, the profile view.  The left and right foot were also facing the same way.

In Art class, we looked at and analyzed how the ancient Egyptian art, Mixtec Codex and Duncan Tonatiuh’s artworks were similar.  Then the students were challenged to draw a picture of a modern scene influenced by these styles.  The only rule was that all of the figures had to be in profile view.

Drawings in Profile3 Drawings in Profile4

This girl seemed to like Starbucks a lot.

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This was right before winter break, so Christmas was a theme in some of their artworks.

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This is an ancient battle scene.

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Sports were chosen by several students.

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This is a girl walking her dog in front of a Target store!

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Snowball fight!

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An ancient Egyptian in a pet store.

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This student was inspired by Duncan’s use of real photographic textures, so she used cut outs from magazines to make the clothes.  I love love love this technique and may encourage more kids to try this.

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If you would like to check out a few of his books, here are some to look through!
Separate Is Never Equal


Dear Primo: A Letter to My Cousin
The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes

Thanks for reading!  I look forward to hearing your comments or questions!

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About Marcia Beckett

Marcia is an elementary art teacher and loves painting, drawing, sculpture, art journaling and clay. Her blog, Art is Basic, features many exciting art projects for kids.
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