About Faces

Art-Reach Pre-Visit Activity: Art Talk

Please view the two reproductions with your class and lead a discussion using the following questions as guidelines. There are no “right” answers. The questions are meant to guide the group discussion. Students will re-visit and discuss these works as well as others during the ArtReach visit. The vocabulary in this packet will aid discussion.

Research and experience have shown that students feel more comfortable when they can connect with something familiar when the Museum educator conducts the program. The students enjoy sharing their insights from the pre-visit discussion with the educator.

About Faces

This visit explores BAM’s Permanent Collection through different works of art that feature the face. Students will view and discuss artwork that depicts people, with a focus on a variety of portraits. In addition to portraiture, these artworks lend themselves especially well to the popular classroom themes of relationships, identity and memories.


  • What colors do you see?
  • How many colors has the artist used? How would you describe the colors?
  • What kind of colors are they? (muted, bright. . .)
  • Can you tell what kind of mood this woman is in? How can you tell?
  • Do the colors give you any clues?
  • If you could name this painting, what would you call it?
  • Does the title, I Am Burning confirm or change your ideas about the mood of the woman?
  • Why do you think the artist chose this title?
  • What colors would you use if you wanted to do a painting that communicated other moods such as sad, disappointed, frustrated, happy, excited. . .

Gregory Grenon
I Am Burning, 1994
oil on Plexiglas, 50” x 44”
Permanent Collection



  • How would you describe the colors in this artwork?
  • Do you see any recognizable objects in this painting?
  • What does the title, Sleeping Self-Portrait tell you about the subject of the painting?
  • Would you ever think to make a portrait of yourself while you are sleeping?
  • How would you go about creating it?
  • How does the mood of the person in this
    painting differ from the mood of the person in
    I Am Burning?
  • Both paintings are considered portraits. Which looks more like a real person to you? Why?

Brian Murphy
Sleeping Self-Portrait, 1999
oil on canvas, 72” x 96”
Gift of Driek and Michael Zirinsky


About Faces

Medium A specific kind of artistic technique or means of expression as determined by the materials used or the creative methods involved: the medium of lithography. The materials used in a specific artistic technique: oils as a medium.
Media The plural of medium.
Abstraction A method of art using shapes, designs, textures and colors in a way that may look unrealistic, and emphasizes moods or feelings. It is characterized by the use of geometric lines and shapes, and bold, bright colors.
Mood An overall feeling or emotion.
Portrait A pictorial representation of a person usually showing a face. A self-portrait is a portrait made by the artist of the artist.
Realism A style of art that depicts things as they appear.
Symbol Any image, shape, line, color, or pattern used by the artist to express an abstract thought, idea or hidden meaning.


ArtReach Curricular Connections
About Faces

Teachers can adapt the following curricular connections to meet the needs of any grade level.
  • Have students take digital pictures of themselves and import them into a computer program such as Adobe Photoshop. Using different filters and tools, have them create self-portraits that represent their personalities.
Social Studies and Technology
  • Have students learn about their cultural heritage. Research family histories using the computer: http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=309. Locate countries that are part of each student’s family history on a map of the world and have students learn about the geography and culture of these places.
  • Discuss the meaning of the word “family” with students. Do family members have to be related? What people traditionally make up roles in a family? Do you have any friends or people you are close to that you consider family even though you are not related? Discuss the extended family as it is view by other cultures.
  • Have students explore their role in their community. This website provides a variety of lesson plan ideas related to children and community. http://teacher.scholastic.com/lessonrepro/k_2theme/communities.htm

Reading and Writing

  • Ask students to read the life story of a historical figure. Have students create a list of interview questions they would ask the person based on important events that happened in his/her life. Students may write a letter to this person using the interview questions they developed.
  • Write stories about personal memories. Keep journals to record recent memories. Read some of the selections from the bibliography.
  • Write a story from the point of view of one of the figures in the artwork viewed during the ArtReach visit.

Science and Math

  • Learn how mathematics is used as a tool to construct artwork in proper and pleasing proportions. Have students learn about the Golden Mean, Golden Ratio, The Divine Proportion, Phi and Fibonacci Numbers by studying various artworks. Refer to the website http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/high/Grace-golden.htm for lesson plan ideas and web links for teaching these mathematical concepts.
  • Discuss the psychology behind reading facial expressions. Discuss what we can learn about a person through body language and facial expressions.
  • Visit http://www.gladwell.com/2002/2002_08_05_a_face.htm to read about how law enforcement agencies use this science to help fight crime.
  • Discuss classification system of Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species in science and have students chart some of those relationships.
  • Have students participate in a class project that explores community job responsibilities: http://ericir.syr.edu/Virtual/Lessons/Mathematics/Applied_Math/APM0013.html

Related Websites

For Teachers

http://www.princetonol.com/groups/iad/lessons/high/Cindi-bust.htm – Lesson plan on self-portrait clay busts.

http://edsitement.neh.gov/view_lesson_plan.asp?id=255 – Lesson plan that analyzes what portraits say about a person. Focuses on history and social studies by studying historical portraits.

For Teachers and Kids

http://puffin.creighton.edu/museums/archive/7_abarnett/page2.htm – Shows examples of celebrity portraits done by Andy Warhol.

http://www.npg.si.edu/ – Smithsonian Portrait Gallery, contains an extensive database of portraits of famous and historical figures.

http://www.biography.com/bio4kids/index.jsp – Interactive website that introduces children to famous people and interesting facts about them.

http://www.biography.com/search/ – Resource for researching information about your favorite celebrity or historical figures.

http://www.museumnetwork.com/learning/resources/canda-001/canda_mn.asp#IN – Introduces a variety of activities to learn about portraits and uses Pablo Picasso as an example.

http://www.museumnetworkuk.org/portraits/artworks/viewAll.html – Website that includes a variety of portraits from museums and an interactive section for children to learn about historical portraits.


Post-Visit Activity: MAKE IT!

To extend the ArtReach experience and connect the visit to your curriculum,
please consider using or adapting this suggested lesson.

About Faces
Idaho Celebrity Portraits


This activity focuses on familiarizing students with portrait drawing. Students will choose a portrait of a famous or important Idahoan and learn about the person by studying and drawing the facial features and characteristics of that person. The lesson can be easily adapted for younger students and can involve more complex artistic skills for older students.


  • 8 ½” by 11″ color or black and white copy of famous or important Idahoan (Joe Albertson, Picabo Street, Helen Chenoweth, Jake Plummer, Dirk Kempthorne). For a list of names visit http://www.50states.com/bio/idaho.htm
    and use Google to search for images.
  • 8 ½ by 11 drawing paper
  • Pencils
  • Erasers
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Rulers


Grades K-3

Make black and white or color copies (approximately 8 ½ by 11 inches) of portraits of famous celebrities or important historical figures from Idaho. As a class, look at the portrait images and discuss who the people are and their significance to Idaho history. Let each student choose one portrait image. Have them look closely at the facial features and attributes that make their person recognizable. Using scissors, have students cut out different features (eye, nose, ears, lips, etc.). Ask students to trade some of their facial features with other classmates and create a new portrait by arranging and gluing down their new attribute pieces on an 8 ½ by 11 piece of drawing paper. Students can give their new celebrities names, careers, and personalities, and add to the portrait by drawing backgrounds. Have students look at their completed portraits and compare how the combined features of various people are the same or different from the original portrait.


Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.11.34 PM

Grades 4-8

Create a grid drawing using a portrait of a famous celebrity or important historical figure from Idaho and enlarge the image to approximately 8 ½ by 11 inches using a copy machine or computer program. Images can be black and white or color (color will allow the students to see more details). Have students spend time studying the facial features and other physical attributes that make their person recognizable. Using a ruler, have students measure and make marks in 1 inch increments around all four sides of the image. Drawing very lightly, connect the marks to create 1-inch blocks over the entire image. Using an 8 ½ by 11 piece of drawing paper create the same measured blocks. Using the gridded image as a guide, draw what is in each square of the grid on the original image into each block on the drawing page. Erase the extra lines from the grid to finish the drawing.


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Grades 9-12

Have students choose a color image of a famous celebrity or important historical figure from Idaho and enlarge the image to approximately 8 ½ by 11 inches using a copy machine or computer program. Have students spend a couple of minutes closely studying their celebrity portraits. Students should pay close attention to the facial features and other physical attributes that make their person recognizable. To help students focus their attention on the features, create a list of questions for them to answer. Cut the excess white border off of the celebrity portrait picture and cut the image in half. Using an 8 ½ by 11 piece of drawing paper use a glue stick to glue one of the halves down. Lay the other cut half of the portrait down and use it to create the border for the other side that the drawing will be on. Using both the glued half of the portrait and unglued half as references, complete the other side of the face by drawing it. Adaptations can be made for older students by having them draw the entire face.


Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 11.16.29 PM

Applications and Extensions

Reading and Writing

  • Have students write a story about their selected celebrity or historical figure from Idaho. The story should include key events that happened in the celebrity’s life and what they are famous for.
  • Create a list of descriptive words that would describe the selected person’s personality, and other information that would best describe the person.


  • Create a grid drawing of a portrait. Measure 1 inch or ½ inch blocks with a ruler on the top/bottom of the portrait image. Create the same measurements on a piece of drawing paper and draw your picture focusing on each block.
  • Using the image of an Idaho celebrity, have students learn about the proportions of the head. Using a ruler measure the different features and distances between them. Have students draw lines and measurements directly on their image. Using the calculations from their image, have students compare their measurements with other classmates. Visit the following website for more information about the proportions of the head:



Visual Art

  • Create portraits using a variety of different media (paint, ink, clay, Papier Maché etc.) and styles (abstract, realistic, etc.).
  • Create a narrative of an historical event using clay. Re-create an important scene by sculpting the portraits of key characters.
  • Have students use their classmates as models and draw portraits of them.

Geography and History

  • As a class come up with a list of other famous Idahoans and historical figures. Create a large-scale map of Idaho. Have students create symbols that represent one of the famous Idahoans. Use the symbols to mark on the Idaho map where the person lives or lived. Visit http://www.50states.com/bio/idaho.htm for a list of some famous Idahoans.
  • Create a timeline of Idaho governors using portrait pictures of them. Write a statement about each one and what they accomplished while they were in office.


About Faces

For Teachers

  • Alan Hydes’ Celebrity Portraits by Alan Hydes; Harper Collins Publishers, October 1, 2003. ISBN: 0007169345
  • The Art of Portrait Drawing by Joy Thomas; North Light Books, June 12, 2006. ISBN: 1581807120
  • The Artist’s Complete Guide to Facial Expressions, Gary Faigin; Watson-Guptill Publications, 1990. ISBN: 0823016285
  • Drawing the Human Head, Burne Hogarth; Watson-Guptill Publications, March 1989. ISBN: 0823013766
  • The Portrait in Clay, Peter Rubiro; Watson-Guptill Publications, November 1997. ISBN: 0823041026
  • 500 Self-Portraits, Julian Bell; Phaidon Press, April 1, 2004. ISBN: 0714843849


  • Alphabet Animals, Charles Sullivan; Rizzoli, July 15, 1991. ISBN: 0847813770
  • Funny Faces: A Very First Picture Book, Lorenz Books; Lorenz Books, October 1996. ISBN: 1859671195
  • My Very First Look At Shapes, Christiane Gunzi; Two-Can, June 2001. ISBN: 158728278x
  • Smile!, Roberta Grobel Intrater; Cartwheel; Board edition, October 1, 1997. ISBN: 0590058991

Pre-K to 3rd

  • Looking at Faces in Art , Joy Richardson; Gareth Steven Publishing, January 2000. ISBN: 0836826248
  • People, Philip Yenawine; Museum of Modern Art, December 30, 2006. ISBN: 0870701746
  • Portraits, Bobbie Kalman, Clare Roundhill and Penny King; Crabtree Publications, October 1997. ISBN: 0865058504
  • Portraits, Claude Delafosse and Gallimard Jeunesse; Scholastic, October 1995. ISBN: 0590552007
  • What is Art? Painting and Sculpture, Nuria Roca; Barron’s Educational Series, December 2, 2003. ISBN: 0764127004

4th to 6th

  • The Doubleday Book of Famous Americans, Suzanne Lavert; Doubleday Books for Young Readers, August 1, 1989. ISBN: 0385236999
  • Draw 50 Famous Stars As Selected by Rona Barrett’s Hollywood Magazine, Lee J. Ames; Doubleday, April 14, 1982. ISBN: 038515688X
  • Self-Portraits, Peggy Roalf; Hyperion, April 1993. ISBN: 1562823566

Junior High

  • The Art Gallery: Faces, Philip Wilkinson; Peter Bedrick, June 1, 2000. ISBN: 0872266338
  • Draw 50 Famous Faces: The Step-By-Step Way to Draw Shakespeare, Bill Cosby, George Washington, and Many More… , Lee J. Ames; Broadway, May 5, 1987. ISBN: 0385234325
  • What is a Self-Portrait?, Ruth Thomson; Sea To Sea Publications, July 30, 2005. ISBN: 1932889892

Young Adult/Adult

  • Facial Expressions: A Visual Reference for Artists, Mark Simon; Watson-Guptill Publications, June 20, 2005. ISBN: 0823016714
  • Secrets to Drawing Realistic Faces, Carrie Stuart Park; North Light Books, March 2003. ISBN: 1581802161