girl hiking alone

Discovering Oneself – Idea File

Students learn about self-portraits and then make self-portraits based on journal descriptions.
Grades: 9-12

Realism: Self-Portrait

Teaching Concepts:

  • Artists represent themselves in writing (autobiography) and in art (self-portraits).

Academic Content

  • Language Arts: descriptive and autobiographical writing
  • Visual Arts: principles of design (contrast), elements of art (line, form), purposes of art (artistic expression)

Lesson Idea
Open: Begin by showing the video segment “Realism: Self-Portrait.” Then have students search the Internet to find examples of portraits. For each example, have them read the information about the piece and determine whether it is a portrait or a self-portrait.

Journaling: Have the students write in their journals about what makes them themselves. Questions they could ask themselves: What are my interests? What are my favorite things? What do I dislike? What events in my life shaped me into the person I am today? How do I think others see me?

Sketch: When students are finished writing in their journals, have them make quick sketches of themselves, using shading to give the sketches depth and contrast. Students should include characteristics they recorded about themselves in their journals.

Extend: Have students select the sketch they like the best and then, in a medium of their choosing, create a self-portrait.

Author: Adapted from a lesson by Bonnie Peugeot

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K-12English Language Arts and LiteracyThe Arts