Artists Paint ... Self-Portraits

By Herberholz, Barbara | Arts & Activities, February 2013 | Go to article overview

Artists Paint ... Self-Portraits


Herberholz, Barbara, Arts & Activities


When an artist paints a picture of someone, it is called a portrait. When an artist looks in a mirror and paints a picture of him- or herself, it is called a self-portrait.

Some artists want to show exactly how they look, and others want us to better understand their personality. Albrecht Durer (1471-1528) painted this elegant full-frontal portrait of himself wearing some very fine clothing of his day. He has an elegant fur-trimmed coat, and his long hair falls down in wavy locks.

He painted himself as a gentlemen worthy of anyone's respect. Durer was quite wealthy at the time and could own exquisite clothing. He had learned in Italy that artists of the Renaissance were highly regarded as intellectuals rather than as tradesmen, and he wanted to promote this belief in his native Germany.

On the right side of his self-portrait, the artist wrote, "Albrecht Durer of Nuremberg paint myself thus, with undying colors at the age of 28 years." On the opposite side is his signature made up of his initials, A and D.

grade 1

National Art Standards

Understand and apply media, techniques and processes

Students reflect upon and assess the characteristics and merits of their work and the work of others

Materials

* Colored paper, 9" x 12" for background

* Multicultural colored paper (6" x 9")

* Pencils, scissors, glue sticks

* Assorted patterned wrapping paper, wall paper, and plain-colored paper

* Multicultural crayons, marking pens, crayons or oil pastels

* Mirrors

Motivation

Demonstrate by holding a mirror in front of you, close one eye and use a black marking pen to draw the outline around your face from the top of your head to your chin. Then mark a horizontal line across your face where your eyes are. Then look at the mirror to see the oval you have drawn and that the horizontal line is halfway down on it.

Students then use a finger to trace around their own faces to feel the oval shape and where the neck connects to the head, just below the ears. Feel where the shoulders are.

When looking in a mirror, you can observe your own features. …

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