Nicola Marshall: Artist of the Deep South

Portraits*

A portrait is usually a representation of a particular person, an individual or a family. That person(s) called the sitter(s), is the artist's main reason for making the portrait, and the goal is to introduce the sitter(s) to the viewer. A portrait can take the form of a drawing, painting, scripture, or photograph and there is generally an attempt to show a likeness of the person being depicted, or to convey something about the person --- through objects or ideas associated with them.

Objective: Students will be able to...



Activity 1:

Materials: reproduction portraits from packet.

Procedure:

1. Since almost everyone has had a photograph of themselves taken, you might begin by asking your students to think about the most recent time someone snapped a picture of them. Was it a special occasion -- birthday, sports game, piano recital? What were they wearing? Who else was in the picture? Did you like that picture of yourself?

2. Get students thinking about the portraits by asking the following questions: What do you think are some of the reasons for people having their pictures made? (To record a special event or moment for yourself and others not present, to look at or to record a likeness -- to see what someone looked like at a certain time in life, for your family album, for future generations to see).

3. Make note that in today's society, photographs are the main source of portraiture. Ask students to think about some other ways to have a portrait of themselves done. Consider other mediums, including collages, with objects that relate to the person in the portrait. If you have had your portrait made, what would you wear? What would you like to have as a background? Who or what else would be in the portrait that would tell the viewer about your interests (Pet, family member, hobby, team uniform or hat). What are some of the decisions painters make when they make portraits?

4. Have students look at the portraits from the prints in this packet. Spend time getting acquainted with the portraits. Encourage your students to be very observant -- paying attention to everything they can about the subject of the portrait. Be certain to observe the little "clues" provided about the person (objects in the background, clothing, facial expressions, and so forth). Do not provide them with labels or titles. Some questions you might ask to stir curiosity. What do you suppose the person(s) was like? Do you think you would have liked them? Why? Why not? Would you like this person to be your teacher? How much can you really tell about people from the expression or looks?

5. Explain to students that many of the portraits they may have seen were commissioned -- the artist was paid to paint the sitter. How might this affect the portrait? Why do you think the artist showed him/her this way?

6. If the person in the picture could speak, what do you think he or she would say? How might he or she act?

7. Divide the students into small groups. Have each group make up stories about the lives and reputation of the subject(s) in the portrait based on what they look like, what they are pictured with, and how the artist portrays them. Try to get them to determine as much about the subjects as their imaginations permit. Tell students to think of them as if they were characters in a "soap opera."

8. Stress that the point is not to guess correctly, but to use the portrait as a point of departure to develop an elaborate story of their own making.

Activity 2: Becoming A Portrait Painter
Materials:
1. Drawing paper of at least 8 1/2" x 11"
2. Pencils, crayons, tempera, acrylic or oil pastels

Procedure:

1. Divide students into pairs. Tell students to paint each other's portrait. Have the two help each other answer the following questions on the chalkboard or create a handout: sitter's name, favorite food, movies, TV shows, animals, pets, styles (fashion, colors), sports, leisure activities, music. What do they most admire? What do they want to do when they grow up?

2. Before starting the portrait, the student must really look at his or her partner. When looking, have students consider the following. What makes them unique? What is different about them? How is their hair cut? Pay attention to specific details such as glasses, freckles, braces, eye colors, jewelry, clothing. Look at the subject and then from memory, write down five details.

3. Try to have the student fill the paper with the portrait. Have the students make two or three versions and decide which one is best. Then color them with tempera, crayon, oil, pastels or arcylic.

 

 

 

 

*This secion has been taken from the Made in America education packet prepared by Bryding Adams, and used with her express permission.

 

 



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