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Looking at Painting
Looking at Painting
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Lesson Plans
Middle School
Fantasy Creature
Gesture Drawing
Still Life
High School
Self-Portrait Unit
Still Life

Kentucky Educational Television
Instructional Unit

Grade Level:
high school

This unit is based on KET’s Looking at Painting, Program 1: “Realism.” The self-portrait is one of several kinds of realistic painting explored in the program (others include landscape and still life). Students may be interested in watching the entire 60-minute program to learn how four realistic painters from Kentucky approach their work, to discover how other famous painters have influenced the work of these painters, and to come to a better understanding of what realism is and why painting is important.

Questions To Guide Your Instruction
Ask these questions of your students:

  1. What are the challenges for the realistic painter in self-portraiture?
  2. Where do an artist’s ideas come from?

Instructional Strategies and Activities
This unit uses Gaela Erwin, who paints self-portraits, as its focus. It is composed of four lessons:

  1. Learning How To Draw Facial Features
  2. Self-Portrait Drawing with Stick and Ink and Ink Washes
  3. Learning Color Relationships Through Color Mixing
  4. Self-Portrait Painting

These lessons use the Erwin segments for both inspiration and insight. Each lesson specifies the appropriate segment(s) so teachers can find the video and show it to the class (see the Program Outline for a complete description of the Realism program segments). In addition, the Looking at Painting web site contains five examples of Erwin’s self-portraits, beginning at gallery page 6, to facilitate more in-depth study. The many other examples of portraits in the web site gallery also may enrich the lessons.

This unit was developed by Zuela Hay.

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