When teaching techniques, it is great to do demonstrations and show students how to use materials and the different things they can do. I have found it is best, however, if I can engage them in an activity that they do and then can decide if they would like to adapt independently to another situation.
That is what mini-challenges, like this line and watercolor portrait, is all about in my classroom.
To start, students take a set of notes that define line, various line directions (and we even do a little dance for this part), and then put those lines into action through a series of portraits.
In their sketchbooks, they create a bilateral continuous contour line portrait, a dominant hand-directed contour line portrait, and a non-dominant hand-directed contour line portrait using various classmates from around the room as subjects that switched for each of the drawings.
After these drawings are complete, students were given a 6x9 inch sheet of watercolor and a white oil pastel to translate their sketches onto, creating a composition on the page with the lines.
The following day, students used their watercolor paper with the oil pastel drawings on them to experiment with a variety of watercolor painting techniques. We went over wet on wet, wet on dry, salt, sponge, resist, and a couple of ways you can use the air from your mouth to get a splatter effect on the page.
Once the watercolors were dry, students went back in with sharpie and made choices about where to add emphasis. This was a fun way to talk about materials, abstraction, and how artists can adapt ideas for future projects.
I know students will use these concepts in different ways throughout the term and I look forward to seeing their results.