Presenting Portraiture!

Students will enjoy the suggested hands-on classroom activities included in these downloadable resources, which will inspire and encourage their own portrait creations.


Every Portrait Tells a Story
Lesson Overview:
Students will learn how to identify and analyze key components of a portrait. They will investigate the narrative of an artwork and learn how to utilize portraits and imagery in storytelling.

Functions of Portraiture
Lesson Overview:
Students will be introduced to the three functions of portraiture as outlined in Portraiture by Shearer West. They will discuss these functions, citing examples of each, and then create their own portrait using the defined functions.

Biography and Portraiture
Lesson Overview:
Students will examine the terms "biography" and "portraiture" and determine the relationship between the two. They will then create a portrait based on a brief biographical writing assignment completed by a peer in the class.

Who Do You See?
Lesson Overview:
Students will learn to interpret portraiture through feelings and emotions. They will discuss the identifiable emotions of the sitter, as well as the emotions of the student reacting to the portrait. Students will then create a mask that reflects their emotional identity.

Lost and Found
Lesson Overview:
Students will be introduced to a method of reading portraiture that involves objects. This will provide the foundation for the sculpture activity. Students will create an abstract self-portrait sculpture out of found objects.

Image 1: Paul Laurence Dunbar
By William McKnight Farrow
Oil on canvas, 1934 
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Image 2: Big Self-Portrait
By William Lawrance
Oil on canvas, 2004
Collection of the artist, © William Lawrance

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