Crest Project

Crest Santa CruzI have, of late, been spending my spare time violently thrashing around, trying to figure out who to be, what to become, and what it means to be an educated person. I am still very far from a complete solution in my own case, and certainly cannot generalize my findings for anyone else as yet. I’ve got plans though… In the mean time, here’s my newest project, for an Intro to Art class, which I had to substitute teach for:

Coat of Arms


Each student must draw a crest that is representative of himself or his family. Subjects could include beliefs, culture, hobbies, interests, teams, etc.

In the example, I have included my parents’ families’ crests (Dodd: upper left; Monroe: lower right), a cross because I’m Christian (it’s large and central because God is very important), books because I love ’em , an agave because I live in the Sonoran Desert, a pine forest (rather badly done, to de sure), because I went to school in Flagstaff, AZ, and Irene on the bottom, which is my baptismal name.


  • Creativity – Is the design original? Did the student put in something unique to himself? At the most basic level, did he draw his own images, or use some clip art stuff?
  • Design – Effective use of Elements and Principles
  • Choice of Images – Can a viewer tell what the images represent? Do they convey a sense of the student’s interests and personality?
  • Craftsmanship – Is the image neat, clean, free from tears, rips, scratches, spills, etc.? It it neatly mounted and signed by the artist?
  • Effort – Students can lost points for staring into space during class time.

Sequence (times approximate):

  • (10 min) Tell students about European Heraldry; show pictures of traditional coats of arms, including my family’s.
  • (5 min) Show examples of current project, and describe what they will be doing.
  • (10 min) Students brainstorm at least five potential images to represent themselves.
  • (12 min) Students draw at least three thumbnail sketches, at least one of which should show a traditional organizational structure (chevron, cross, diagonal line, etc.), then choose which one to use for their finished artwork (time permitting, it must be approved by the teacher)
  • (45 min) Students trace the shield template, then sketch their design in the shield.
  • (10 min) Talk about colors, color symbolism, and coloring materials (preferably watercolor pencils)
  • (85 min) Students refine drawings, then color their designs.
  • (10 min) Wrap-up project, show finished shields, talk about what was successful, and what could have been improved.

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