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Arts Toolkit

Arts Toolkit: Visual Arts Video Clips

Realism: Self-Portrait



As she works on a self-portrait, Louisville artist Gaela Erwin discusses how an artist’s technique develops through the evolution of an initial interest. She also describes her own creative process: analyzing her subject with scrutiny, remodeling and intensifying errors, and creating illusionist spaces while observing realistic content. She says that it is often a very rigorous and personally trying experience. Dealing with the intensity of her own image while looking at herself for up to seven hours in one sitting leads to a manifestation of her own anxiety, revealed in the deep, vivid shades of her canvases.

Suggested Uses:

  • Use to spark a discussion about artists’ methods and intentions as well as the creative process in general. Have students create art based on the video and your discussion.
  • Use in conjunction with a discussion of the purposes of art (e.g., painting a self-portrait that incorporates symbols).
  • Show in conjunction with other painter profile segments from Spectrum of Art or Through Artists’ Eyes, especially painters who use techniques and styles different from realism in creating portraits. Compare and contrast the techniques and methods different artists use in their approach to the same medium.
  • Use the segment as part of a “careers in the arts” unit or as an introductory activity before an artist-in-residence visits your classroom.

Lesson plans using this resource:

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