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Portrait Program Ideas

Page history last edited by Frank Curkovic 14 years, 1 month ago

The Revealing Art of Self-Portraits

Its a rare artist that hasn’t at one time or another attempted a self-portrait. Sometimes its for the most obvious reason, that in painting himself he has a ready, willing and free model. At other times artists may use self-portraits to advertise their skills, practice their craft, explore some inner turmoil or stake a place in history. Whatever reason the artist might think he had for the painting though, with art as with writing, the act of creation always reveals something about the creator. Whether its the unusual yellow ambience of a Van Gogh or the isolation of Hitlers self-portrait its always possible to learn a little more about the artist by reading between the brush-strokes.



Proportioanl Portraits

Many artists make realistic portraits to show a likeness of their subject. To create realistic faces, artists study live models, use mathematics to understand correct proportion, and practice by making sketches. Students will explore these ideas by studying their classmates' faces, developing a proportion reference sketch, and creating a final portrait of a classmate or a self portrait.


Figuring Abstraction


  1. Ask your students to create a realistic pencil and watercolor portrait from life or from a photograph. They can choose to do a full figure or a head and shoulders view.
  2. Next, ask them to do three more portraits of the same subject with each subsequent portrait moving more towards abstraction. Students can experiment with using just lines, shapes, or areas of color. The last portrait in the series should be completely abstract.
  3. Have students reflect upon their artistic process. Did they find it more challenging to do the more realistic or the more abstracted portraits? Why? Do they prefer a particular style? Does the style they prefer for their own works of art coincide with the style they prefer amongst their classmates’ portraits?

When using the above link, you will be redirected to another website. Select "For Teachers" from the screen.




Host a Portrait Party


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