UNIT 1   Lesson Plan 1: What Is a Portrait?

  1. Understand what a portrait is
  2. Learn how to uncover information about a person from a portrait
  3. Observe facial structure and proportions
  4. Practice different variations of contour drawing

Questions for Discussion

  1. What do you know about the Civil War?
  2. What were some important events that took place during the Civil War?
  3. Who were some important people from the Civil War and what did they do?

Portrait Analysis (Whole Class)
Students discuss and analyze a selection of CIVIL WAR IMAGES. Consider the subject’s facial expression, body language, clothing, belongings, and surroundings, which tells them about the person in the image. Students consider these elements of portraiture on their tour through the Red Grooms exhibition The Blue and the Gray (either in person or using the resources provided on the website).

Guiding Questions

  1. What do you see?
  2. Looking at these images, what do you think a portrait is?
  3. Do you have any portraits in your home?
  4. How are these portraits different? How are they the same?
  5. What colors do you see? Patterns? Expressions?
  6. What can you tell about this person in this portrait based on the way he/she was painted? For example: Where and when did he/she live? What did he/she do for a living? Why did he/she have a portrait made?

Class Portraits (Individual)
Students practice drawing portraits to prepare for Workshop activity on their trip to the Hudson River Museum. Students often find drawing a portrait intimidating, so these exercises prepare them to succeed in that activity. Students experiment with three or four ways to draw a portrait of their classmates. In the last portraiture exercise, the teacher explains how to divide the image of a face in proportion. (See Worksheet: Proportions of the Face).


• Civil War Images for Grade 4
Worksheets (4) Portrait Drawing:
         Blind Contour Drawing
         Contour Drawing
         Non-Dominant Hand Drawing
         Dominant Hand Drawing
Worksheet: Proportions of the Face
Drawing and colored pencils