Lesson Key Facts
- Grade(s): 4, 5, 6
- Subject(s): English Language Arts, Math, Visual Arts
- Duration of lesson: Several lessons span several days
- Author(s): Cindy Clark
Have the students draw the worst face they can.
Teacher: You have 10 minutes. You can use markers, crayons, or whatever else is on your table. Think worst! Ugly! Stupid! Horrible! Think of all those negative words that you sometimes express about your drawings.
Have the students draw the faces.
Teacher: Look at your pictures. What do you notice that is interesting? (Use the term interesting when looking at art.)
Activity 1: Contour Line Drawings Are a Good Place to Start
Have the students draw their face using glue and contour lines on black paper. Let the glue dry. Then use chalk pastels to add color. Make it interesting!
Teacher: What does your portrait say about you? Did you use your favorite colors? (See samples below.)
Activity 2: Proportions of the Ideal Face
Examine ideal proportions of the human face. With lower grades, use an oval template; with upper grades, have students draw an oval to start.
The following steps will help students recognize techniques for and find more success in drawing the proportions of the face.
- Draw an oval—the ideal face shape.
- Draw eyes. (The ideal face is five-eyes wide, with one eye-width between the eyes.) The eyes are half the distance from the top of the head to the bottom of the chin.
- Draw in the eyebrows.
- Draw the nose. (The nose is about one eye-width wide.) The end of the nose is half the distance from the brows to the chin.
- Draw lips. (The width of the mouth is in line with the pupils of the eyes.) The line between the lips is a third the distance from the bottom of the nose to the chin.
- Draw ears. The ears line up with the brow line and the bottom of the nose.
Invite students to add details to make this portrait reflect their own face. Hint: Remember the hair comes down a little bit on the forehead. It doesn’t sit on top of the head.
The following are students' portraits of someone who inﬂuenced them, done in various media. Students outlined their portraits with black oil pastel, and then they practiced watercolor techniques of wet-on-wet, salt, resist, and color-mixing.
In addition to creating the portraits, invite students to write a paper about the person, describing the person physically and how this person was influential to them.
Possible Rubric for Self-Critique
Allow students to critique their own learning and artwork. Here are some examples:
- I can identify portraits and self-portraits among other artworks.
- I can tell the difference between portraits and self-portraits when given the background information.
- I can point out examples where artists communicate something about themselves and/or their culture in their artwork.
- I chose materials I thought would work best for my self-portrait. I can explain why I chose them.
- I created a self-portrait that communicates something about me. I can explain it.
- I presented my artwork to the class and received feedback. I also provided feedback for my peers about their work.
- I examined student-created self-portraits made by my peers and identified similarities.
- I helped group the portraits based on similarities and explained reasons for our grouping.
- Overall, I feel like my self-portrait is successful because. . . .
- If I were to do this project again, I would do these things differently. . . .