In this unit, artists learn about how objects can stand in for feelings and memories. They look at different artists who used metaphor in their portrait work to help describe the personality of their portrait subject. They find different objects that help describe them, learn some basic facial proportions, then incorporate the objects into their portrait to represent their interior interests, thoughts, and feelings.


Scope & Sequence:


Lesson 1: In this lesson, students find pictures of things that represent them metaphorically and trace them onto a piece of tracing paper.

Lesson 2: In this lesson, artists learn about facial proportions and discover that they can create a more accurate portrait by learning and following them. They then create a self-portrait using basic proportions.

Lesson 3: During this lesson, student artists take their objects and their self-portraits and combine them to create a portrait that represents them both inside and out.

Lesson 4: During this lesson, students learn how to hold and use their colored pencils to get different effects, as well as how to use color to make their piece more dynamic to look at.

Lesson 5: Allow a fifth day entirely for finishing and refining work. 

Lesson 6: Optional. A final day for finishing.

(you can preview the first lesson in a project without enrolling by clicking on ‘lesson 1’ above).



The above will take you to a supply list that assumes a class size of 30. Adjust according to your needs. 

Books & Media:
Lesson 1: A large selection and variety of books w/pictures for students to look through and trace—look for books that address your student’s interests (machinery, animals, cooking, etc.). These can be borrowed from the library or borrowed from classroom teachers.

Art Elements: 

Line, shape/form, color, texture


Art Principles: 


Proportion/scale, emphasis


National Core Visual Art Standards:



Mathematics (proportions/symmetry), Social Studies (studying Frida Kahlo), Counseling (analyzing self)


Common Core Standards:

RL.3.4, RL.5.4, RL.3.7, L.3.5, L.3.5a, L.4.5, L.5.5a, SL.4.1b, SL.5.1b, SL.4.1c, SL.5.1c, SL.3.3, W.4.2, 4.G.3



Suggestion: Have bins for each table or section that contain the materials. Assign specific student artists the job of passing materials out after the ‘CFU’ part of the lesson, as well as cleaning up after each lesson.

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Navigation tip: when you first go through the project, you must hit the 'mark complete' button, at the bottom of the page, to unlock the next lesson. After 'mark complete' has been hit, you've unlocked that lesson, and you can then use the sidebar to easily click to different lessons within the project (helpful if you are working through the project with more than one class).

Why do I need to hit mark complete? Certain lessons have email triggers (such as teaching tips when there is a painting lesson), and this helps us know when to send them. It also helps us track completion rates.

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