Three Dimensional Portrait
Grades: 6, 7, 8
Related Subjects: English - Language Arts, Visual & Performing Arts
Medium: Drawing, Painting
Class time required: 3 X 50 minute sessions
Author: Museum of Photographic Arts
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In this three-session portrait lesson, students will choose characters from a recently read novel and turn two-dimensional artworks into a three-dimensional portrait that can be viewed in the round.
- Tag board, cardboard, or heavy white paper, enough for two 6” x 8 ¼” oval shapes for each student
- Drawing paper
- Paper clips
- String to hang the portraits
- Tempera or acrylic paints OR colored pencils and colored markers
- Personality Worksheet (PDF, 48kb)
- Procedure Images (PDF, 116kb)
- Ovoid template (PDF, 72kb)
- Glossary terms: emphasis, ovoid, proportion, symmetry
- Print the above images onto overhead transparencies.
- Print Personality Worksheet (PDF) for each student.
- Look at Procedure Images (PDF) for a visual explanation of the procedures.
- Print out several copies of the Ovoid template (PDF) for students to use for tracing.
1. Conduct a discussion with the students about portraiture: Why do artists create portraits? What do you think artists try to show in portraits? How can an artist show character traits in a portrait?
2. Show the students examples of portraits and use the following questions to guide the discussion: Who is the person in the artwork? What personality characteristics are portrayed in the artwork? How can you tell? Why do you think the artist chose to paint the portrait in this manner?
3. For this activity, have each student choose four characters in a novel he/she has recently read. The objective is for each student to visually portray a quality of each character’s personality.
4. Have the student complete the Personality Worksheet (PDF) either in class or as homework.
Session Two Procedure Images (PDF)
1. Have students create thumbnail drawings of ideas on scratch paper.
2. Have students use the templates to trace the face shape twice onto the tag board and then cut out the two ovals.
3. Have students place one oval over the other and, using a ruler, measure to find the center. Use a pushpin or other pointed instrument to mark the center on both pieces.
4. Have students use pencils and make a dashed line on one oval from the top to the center, and the other from the bottom to the center.
5. Instruct the students to cut along the dashed lines.
6. Punch a hole on both sides of the slot on the top piece.
7. Have students sketch a different character’s portrait on each side of the oval.
1. Instruct the students to either color or paint the portraits. Let each side dry first if using paint.
2. Slide one oval over the other to create the three-dimensional portrait. Attach a paper clip and string to hang or just use string.
3. After the students have completed their portraits, have them write compositions about the assignment and their artworks. Possible prompts are:
• Analyze the effects of the qualities of a character on the plot and resolution in the novel.
• Compare and contrast the qualities of two of the four characters.
• Analyze how a character’s personality qualities are expressed through his/her thoughts, words, and actions.
• Identify a recurring theme in the novel and analyze how it is expressed through the characters’ actions and qualities.
History-Social Studies: Students can choose to portray real people from a historical time period, rather then those from a novel.
English-Language Arts: Students can choose one character from a novel and display four different sides of his/her personality based upon the situations he/she encounters in the book.
CA Content Standards
Sixth Grade Visual Arts
1.1 Identify and describe all the elements of art found in selected works of art (e.g., color, shape/form, line, texture, space, value).
1.4 Describe how balance is effectively used in a work of art (e.g., symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial).
2.1 Use various observational drawing skills to depict a variety of subject matter.
3.3 Compare, in oral or written form, representative images or designs from at least two selected cultures.
Seventh Grade Visual Arts
1.1 Describe the environment and selected works of art, using the elements of art and the principles of design.
2.5 Interpret reality and fantasy in original two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art.
4.2 Analyze the form (how a work of art looks) and content (what a work of art communicates) of works of art.
Eighth Grade Visual Arts
1.1 Use artistic terms when describing the intent and content of works of art.
4.2 Develop a theory about the artist's intent in a series of works of art, using reasoned statements to support personal opinions.
4.5 Present a reasoned argument about the artistic value of a work of art and respond to the arguments put forward by others within a classroom setting.
Sixth Grade English-Language Arts
3.2 Analyze the effect of the qualities of the character (e.g., courage or cowardice, ambition or laziness) on the plot and the resolution of the conflict.
2.2 Write expository compositions (e.g., description, explanation, comparison and contrast, problem and solution).
2.4 Write responses to literature.
Seventh Grade English-Language Arts
3.3 Analyze characterization as delineated through a character's thoughts, words, speech patterns, and actions; the narrator's description; and the thoughts, words, and actions of other characters.
2.2 Write responses to literature.
Eighth Grade English-Language Arts
3.5 Identify and analyze recurring themes (e.g., good versus evil) across traditional and contemporary works.
2.2 Write responses to literature.
Gibson, Robin. Painting the Century: 101 portrait masterpieces 1900-2000. London: National Portrait Gallery, 2001.
Gray, Donna B. From the Eye of the Camera to the Hand of the Artist. Cincinnati, OH: Betterway Books, 1992.
Hodge, Susie. How to Draw Portraits: a Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners with 10 Projects. London: New Holland, 2003.
National Portrait Gallery. A Brush with History: paintings from the National Portrait Gallery. Washington, D.C.: National Portrait Gallery/Smithsonian Institution, 2001.
National Portrait Gallery: Portrait Search
This new Web database contains more than 80,000 portrait records.
National Gallery of Art: Who Am I? Self-Portraits in Art and Writing Lesson Plan
Who am I? is a set of art and writing activities designed to help middle school students begin to answer this important question. Students will look carefully at self-portraits in the National Gallery of Art's collection by Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin, Judith Leyster, David Alfaro Siqueiros, and Andy Warhol and respond to questions online. They will also make a variety of self-portraits and write poetry, a speech, and a letter about themselves—all to be placed in their self-portrait portfolio.
National Portrait Gallery: Portraits of Character
This biographical newspaper feature includes a portrait from the permanent collection and a related story about the sitter. Portraits of Character can be viewed and printed online or downloaded as PDF files.
Retratos: 2,000 years of Latin American Portraiture
Traveling Exhibition Web site that shares the history of Latin American portraiture. Includes a teacher’s guide with transparencies.
National Portrait Gallery: Exhibition Resources
This Web site offers online exhibitions and teacher resources.
Chilvers, Ian. Faces. Danbury, CT: Grolier Educational, 1996.
Roalf, Peggy. Children. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1993.
Roalf, Peggy. Self Portraits. New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 1993.
National Gallery of Art: PixelFace
PixelFace is an interactive portrait maker and drawing board.
Students can learn how to draw portraits with the correct facial proportions.
A Lifetime of Color: Create Art
Students can practice making portraits with this online interactive.