February 22, 2018
By Beth Lemon

Lesson plan

Paper Self-Portraits

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Students will:

  • Create original self-portraits using paper.
  • Use paper to create form and texture.
  • Discuss their work and others with constructive feedback.

This art lesson corresponds to California Visual and Performing Arts Standards: 2.3 Demonstrate beginning skill in the manipulation and use of sculptural materials (clay, paper, and paper maché) to create form and texture in works of art. 2.7 Use visual and actual texture in original works of art.

(5 minutes)
  • Tell students that today we will be making self-portraits. Ask students if they know what a Self-portraitIs, then define if necessary.
  • Explain that instead of paints, markers, or crayons, we will be using paper to create the entire portrait.
(10 minutes)
  • Place your blue paper under document camera. Write your name on the back or bottom corner of page.
  • Explain that the blue paper will be our background paper and will not be cut.
  • Show the different skin tone colors, and model picking one out for yourself using your hand colour.
  • Looking in a mirror or at a photo of yourself under the document camera, ask for student suggestions about what other colour paper you might need for your sample self-portrait.
(15 minutes)
  • Define Texture And have students think about adjectives such as smooth, rough, shiny, curly.
  • Instruct students to look at their face, hair, and shoulders quietly for at least 30 seconds and to let their eyes wander.
  • Tell students to think of five words or phrases about any aspect of their appearance, including shape, colour, and textures.
  • Tell students to share their five words with a partner.
  • Repeat: give students one minute to think of five more words or phrases, then share with a partner.
  • Trace the shape of your face with your finger, then model sketching and cutting out the shape with your skin tone paper.
  • Cut out eyes and model placing them at about the middle of the face (students tend to place eyes very high).
  • Model hair drawing, cutting and placement. Ask students for ideas on how to show different textures of hair (e.g., long flat strips might suggest straight hair while smaller circles might suggest curls).
(20 minutes)
  • Pass out glue sticks and scissors.
  • Instruct students to write their names on their paper.
  • Instruct students to collect necessary paper colors.
  • Instruct students to begin, starting with the head.
  • Walk around the room observing student progress.

Support:Some students may need extra support from you cutting difficult shapes. If you know this ahead of time, you can make stencils for eyes and lips, etc, using cardstock, or you may help students as needed.

Enrichment:Encourage students to look for small details they may have missed!

This lesson can be completed without the use of technology; however, technology such as a document camera can be useful in demonstrating the paper collage technique.

(5 minutes)
  • Review student work as you walk around the room: Did students use paper to form their face shapes and attributes? Did students incorporate texture?
(10 minutes)
  • Gallery Walk: Ask students to place their work on their desks and stand up. Instruct students to walk in one direction, slowly, around the room. Instruct students not to talk during this time.
  • Come back together as a class. Ask students: What shapes did you notice? Did you notice an interesting way to make eyes, nose, or lips? Did you see any different textures? How were they made?

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