With the Paintbrush of the Artist

Jaclyn Scott, Katie Ferneyhough, Bobbi Byrd

The students will use research techniques to create a self-portrait based on North American artists. The students will understand how the North American artist was influenced to create their pieces of work.
1. How do specific techniques and/or tools make an artist’s work unique?
2. How can a time period and life experiences influence an artist’s work?


10-15 Paintings by North American Artists
iPads with the app “Art Gallery” preinstalled (as many as possible)
Small Paper for ballots
Research Guideline Worksheet


Day 1
Prior Preparation
Hang a variety of works of art created by different North American Artists on the wall (approximately 2-3 feet apart). Using the app “Art Gallery” save a collection of North American Artists and their works on multiple iPads.

1. Ask students, “Where do you see artwork?” Collect and record a variety of answers.
2. Discuss whether the same type of art is used in all of these locations. Guide students to the conclusion that different types of art can be appropriate for different locations.
3. Use the “human bar graph” method to have students select their favorite painting. Ask students to consider if their favorite painting would be appropriate in their grandmother’s house. If it would not, have them select the painting that would be most appropriate. Repeat this with other locations (dentist’s office, school, restaurant, bank, aquarium, church, nursery, etc.).
4. As a group, discuss changes in the bar graph and how they corresponded to different locations.
5. Inform the students that they will be placed into groups of 3 or 4 and allowed to look at various pieces from all of the artists represented to choose the artist they would like to research. Each group will be given a ballot where they may rank the artists by first, second, and third choice.
6. Separate students into groups and allow plenty of time for them to look through the galleries and rank their choices.

Day 2
Prior Preparation: Before the class begins, look through student ballots and assign artists based on choice selection.

1. Have students get into their pre-assigned groups and hand out artist research assignments.
2. Students then use the attached Research Guidelines worksheet to guide their research. Allow 2-3 class sessions for students to complete their research.
3. Teacher travels amongst students and ensures that students are engaged, focused, and understand the assignment/questions. The teacher needs to collect a list of art materials and tools that the students will need during Part 3 of this lesson.

Day 3
Prior Preparation: Prepare art materials according to the students pre-assessed needs.

1. This session’s objective is for the students to use all of the data that they have collected on their artist and create a self portrait in the style of their artist. The self portrait can take a variety of representations (examples: facial portrait, full body portrait, a still life depiction of objects that represent them, etc…)
2. The students worked collaboratively to collect their data. Now they will work independently to create their self-portrait.
3. Allow a few minutes for the students to consider how they want to proceed with their work and what technique they are going to use to represent the artists.
4. Allow students time to create self-portraits. (This may take up to 2 class sessions).

Day 4
Students use reflection sheet to reflect on piece created and describe how their piece represents their artist and themselves.

Day 5
Students hang up artwork to display in an ‘art gallery’ fashion. The students circulate and view each other’s self-portrait masterpieces.

Differentiation Approaches

The assessment tool utilized will be the reflection sheet to assess if and how the students’ utilized the artists’ techniques to create their self-portrait.


The assessment tool utilized will be the reflection sheet to assess if and how the students’ utilized the artists’ techniques to create their self-portrait.

Follow Up and Extension Ideas

This lesson could be adapted to another subject that incorporates researching historical figures or a scientific process. Designing this lesson has given thought to future lessons to include teaching art and North American culture interchangeably.

Additional Details

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