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Kentucky Educational Television
Lesson Plan
Mixed-Media Self-Portrait with Symbols

Activity: Creating a Mixed-Media Self-Portrait with Collage and Drawing

Video: Looking at Painting, Program 1: “Realism” and Program 2: “Expressionism”

Grade Level: middle school

Web Site Resources:
Gaela Erwin biography and five paintings beginning at gallery page 6
Mark Priest biography and five paintings beginning at gallery page 40

Segments:

From Program 1:
26:15-30:56  Gaela Erwin about process:
In-cue: “What I don’t want to be ...”
Out-cue: “... personalizes it for them.”
From Program 2:
16:26-17:53  Mark Priest about the influence of Henry Chodkowski
Total length: about 6 minutes

Concept/Objectives:
Students will:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of portraits as subject matter. (AH-M-4.1.39)
  2. demonstrate an understanding of personal expression as a purpose for creating art. (AH-M-4.2.32)
  3. create a self-portrait with symbols using the elements of art and principles of design. (AH-M-4.1.41)
  4. create a self-portrait using a variety of media to communicate ideas, feelings, or experiences. (AH-M-4.1.34)

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

  1. What is a portrait? What is a self-portrait? How are they different?
  2. When did self-portraiture enter into art history?
  3. What causes the eyes to be the dominant feature in a self-portrait?
  4. How will you organize your composition using the design principles of contrast, repetition, contrast, proportion, and pattern?
  5. What is the purpose of your self-portrait?
  6. How will you fit the parts of this mixed-media self-portrait together to form a complete expression of yourself?
  7. Where are you in your self-portrait?

Kentucky Core Content for Assessment:
AH-M-4.1.31, AH-M-4.1.34, AH-M-4.2.33, AH-M-4.1.41, AH-M-4.2.31, AH-M-4.1.35, AH-M-4.1.33, AH-M-4.2.32

Critical Vocabulary:
art elements: color (tint/shade), texture, space (positive and negative), value
principles of art: balance (asymmetry), emphasis, contrast, proportion, movement, repetition
portrait
self-portrait
expressive
character
personality
highlight
body language
imitation
representational
collage
composition
aesthetics: imitational, expressive, formal
symbol

Instructional Strategies and Activities
Introduce students to portraiture through the video segments listed above (Gaela Erwin talking about her interest in self-portraits in Program 1, “Realism,” and Mark Priest about the influence of Henry Chodkowski in Program 2, “Expressionism”).

Discuss the three types of aesthetics: imitational (duplicates nature), expressive (shows emotion), and formal (examines the formal elements and principles of art). The self-portraits the students will create should demonstrate all three.

Explain that the art of collage (gluing objects to paper) was first used by Picasso in the early 20th century. Invite students to take an in-depth look at modernism/modern art with this essay from the “What Is Art?” web site created by Sweet Briar College:

Now have each student create a mixed-media self-portrait using the following steps:

  1. Make a list of words that describe you. Include your favorite color and favorite animal, characteristics of your family, where you are from, what you like to do, your interests, your friends, what music you like, etc. Describe images, textures, colors, etc. that would represent these words next to them. You are creating symbols with which to describe yourself.
  2. Using a mirror, draw your self-portrait (head and shoulders). Here are some hints on facial proportions:

    • Begin with the eyes.
    • There is one eye width between the eyes.
    • The bottom of the nose is approximately one eye width from the bottom of the eye.
    • The bottom of your bottom lip is approximately two eye widths from the bottom of the eye.
    • The bottom of your chin is approximately one eye width from the bottom of your mouth.
    • To measure for the top of your head: It is the same distance from the bottom of your eyes to the bottom of your chin as it is from the bottom of your eyes to the top of your head.
    • Notice that the corners of your mouth line up with the iris of your eyes, and the corners of your nose line up with the tear ducts of your eyes.
    • Your neck lines up with the outer corners of your eyes.
    • Your shoulders extend almost a full head width from the side of the head.
  3. Make an envelope for storing found objects, fabric scraps, and magazine clippings.
  4. Pick out found objects and magazine images and colors that you feel represent your personality and interests, based on your lists.
  5. Arrange the objects and textures to form your self-portrait, using your drawing as a guide.
  6. To create a unified composition, spread the textures, colors, and objects around, repeating three of each three times. Use a variety of different sizes of objects.
  7. Rearrange, add, and subtract objects until you are satisfied with the composition.
  8. Glue the objects down to the paper.
  9. Finish the collage by drawing your features in using oil pastels and/or paint.
  10. To frame: Measure 3" in from each edge of the black construction paper. Glue the collage in the center.

Each student will now write an artist’s statement about the finished work that explains why the particular images, objects, and colors were chosen and what they represent. Then hold a class critique of the finished self-portraits, focusing on how effectively the students were able to use the elements of art and principles of design in their artworks.

Materials
12 X 18" 100# (or heavier) paper
18 X 24" black paper for frame
rulers
magazines
oil pastels
tempera paint
brushes
water containers
found objects (fabric scraps, wallpaper samples, buttons, feathers, ribbons, yarn, etc.)
scissors
newspapers
pencils
mirrors

Support/Connections/Resources
Looking at Painting web site (www.ket.org/painting)
What Is Art? Modernism web site from Sweet Briar College
     (www.arthistory.sbc.edu/artartists/modernism.html)

Extension Idea
Have students research self-portrait painting. Identify what influenced it and how it is different from portrait painting. In what ways is it the same?

Assessment and Scoring Guide
Prompt: Students use the videos on realism and expressionism as the motivator for creating their own mixed-media self-portraits. They include symbols to represent important characteristics of their lives and personalities. They demonstrate the three types of aesthetics (imitational, expressive, and formal) in their work.

Directions:

  1. Students view Kentucky artists Gaela Erwin’s and Mark Priest’s work in the Looking at Painting videos.
  2. Students understand self-portraiture.
  3. Students discover the purposes of art.
  4. Students draw a self-portrait using proportion and siting techniques.
  5. Students select and plan a composition of representational objects that demonstrate the three types of aesthetics.
  6. Students create a mixed-media self-portrait.
  7. Students write artists’ statements that explain why they chose the images, objects, and colors they did to represent themselves.
  8. Students critique the finished works.
4 
  • The student completes a mixed-media self-portrait and written artist’s statement.
  • The student designs an effective drawing that clearly reflects an understanding of all of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects the student’s best effort and effective craftsmanship.
  • The student follows all directions and always asks questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an active participant in the class critique, contributing remarks that reflect a clear understanding of the project.
3 
  • The student completes a mixed-media self-portrait and written artist’s statement.
  • The student designs a somewhat effective drawing that reflects an understanding of most of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects good effort and somewhat effective craftsmanship.
  • The student follows most directions and usually asks questions when uncertain.
  • The student is a fairly active participant in the class critique, contributing remarks that reflect a clear understanding of the project.
2 
  • The student completes a mixed-media self-portrait and written artist’s statement.
  • The student designs an acceptable drawing that reflects an understanding of some of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects acceptable effort and craftsmanship.
  • The student follows a few key directions and doesn’t usually ask questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an acceptable participant in the class critique when called upon, and his or her remarks reflect a general understanding of the project.
1 
  • The student completes a mixed-media self-portrait and written artist’s statement.
  • The student designs a drawing that reflects a minimal understanding of some of the elements and principles of art in the lesson.
  • The project reflects minimal effort and craftsmanship.
  • The student follows a few directions and doesn’t usually ask questions when uncertain.
  • The student is an inadequate participant in the class critique when called upon, and his or her remarks reflect a minimal understanding of the project.
0 
  • The student doesn’t complete a mixed-media self-portrait and written artist’s statement.

This lesson was prepared by Franzee Dolbeare and Cyndi Young.


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