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Personal Profiles

Teens explore symbolism and identity as they create color filled silhouettes that visually depict a term and image to describe themselves.

  • Grade 5
    Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • Multiple Lesson Periods
  • Directions

    1. View image of “Abraham Lincoln the President” by Mauricio Lasansky. Ask students to think about and share what this image communicates to the viewer about Lincoln. What does the image not tell a viewer? What could the artist have done to communicate beliefs, interests and ideas?
    2. Ask students to consider one word that they feel best describes them. Have them consider interests, beliefs and hobbies. This reflective information will be used throughout the creation of this project.
    3. Encourage students to work in teams of two. Using an overhead projector, have one pose in profile, while the other uses pencil to trace a silhouette of their head on large heavy paper affixed with transparent tape to the wall behind the team. Pairs will need to take turns, each being traced.
    4. Demonstrate how the drawing can be turned horizontally and space inside image can be broken into bubble letters spelling one descriptive word. Show students how to plan ahead, making each letter approximately the same size and filling the space. The top and bottom of each letter should touch the front and back of head, maintaining profile image. Encourage students to draw letters close together, leaving minimal negative space inside profile.
    5. Instruct students to sketch five to seven images that reflect personal interests or hobbies on top of letters creating interest and giving the piece depth of meaning.
    6. Outline all pencil lines in black Crayola® Washable Markers.
    7. Demonstrate how to use Crayola Color Sticks to blend colors from light to dark or warm to cool. Using a color wheel will aid this process for students. Encourage them to use contrasting colors between letters. Small areas around edges can be filled with matching Crayola Twistable Colored Pencils.
    8. Create contrast in small images by applying colors opposite to those used behind the image. Portions of these smaller areas may need to be filled in using Twistable colored pencils as well.
    9. Leaving a narrow white edge around image, use Crayola Pointed Tip Scissors to cut out the profile and adhere to a dark background using Crayola Washable No Run School Glue.
    10. Ask students to compare their finished work with the piece inspiration artwork, “Abraham Lincoln the President”. What are the merits of each? What are drawbacks to the process used? Ask students to identify which they prefer and discuss why.
  • Standards

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions with diverse partners on grade level topics, texts and issues building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    LA: Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

    LA: Use knowledge of language and its conventions when writing, speaking, reading, or listening.

    MATH: Analyze proportional relationships and use them to solve real-world and mathematical problems.

    VA: Formulate an artistic investigation of personally relevant content for creating art.

    VA: Demonstrate persistence in developing skills with various materials, methods, and approaches in creating works of art or design.

    VA: Reflect on and explain important information about personal artwork in an artist statement or another format.

  • Adaptations

    Expand upon featured word created in art, create a poem that further describes traits and characteristics, and incorporate this into the background space of the art piece.

    Challenge students to research a national leader whom they admire; write a report on this individual. Draw parallels in character traits between themselves and this admirable figure.

    Use web resources to find images of one prominent person (such as George Washington) using varying viewpoints including, profile, three- quarter view and casual. Discuss in small groups what are the advantages and drawbacks of each approach to portraiture.

    Allowing students to practice and experiment with color mixing and blending on scrap paper before working on the final piece will increase confidence and prepare students to approach this project.

    Encourage students to expand project by creating a profile piece representing someone they admire in their home or school community.


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  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
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