During my student teaching assignment I created a lesson plan titled, "The Self in Self-Portraits" for my 8th grade students. I wanted them to understand that every color, object, design, expression, everything in a self-portrait is a conscious decision made by the artist. It is a clue they are giving us to learn more about them.
We started out with a slideshow of portraits (some were self-portraits, some just portraits.) We discussed portraits by Pablo Picasso, Edvard Munch, Vincent van Gogh, Frida Khalo, and Chuck Close. I tried to get the students to see that they can already read these paintings, even if they didn't realize it.
I asked them how this painting, "The Old Guitarist," made them feel. They all of course said sad or depressing. When I asked them why it made them feel this way they found many clues: color, posture, facial expression, simplicity, background, etc. With this knowledge, I asked them to create their own self-portraits.
They had to choose two media, one for the background and one for the foreground, and I wanted to know at least 3 things about them by looking at their self-portrait.
I was so impressed with the outcome of this lesson! Students used new media they had never used before. They got to express themselves in a new way. And most importantly, they will never look at art the same way again.
I hope you enjoy their beautiful work!