Tips for a portrait project

5th December 2003 at 00:00
* Look for portraits which tell a story and could inspire discussion. Examples are works by: David Hockney; Edward Hopper; Hans Holbein (eg "Georg Gisze: a German Merchant in London"); John Singer Sargent's portraits of women, including Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth and El Jaleo. l Look, too, at Cindy Sherman's "History Portraits" (1989-1990), 35 works loosely based on Old Masters or paintings by American artist John Currin, who applies the language of classical painting to seemingly inappropriate subjects such as end-of pier postcards. Ask students to bring costumes and props; provide what you can from school collections.

* Before trying a portrait with items which were important to them, students could talk about what they would like to have with them on a desert island, then move on to their prized possessions in real life.

* Discuss the images you have collected: what do students think the subjects are thinking? How do they respond to the depiction of certain characters?

* Before taking photos, make identity maps. Fill the outline of a person with facts about themselves, like their favourite colour and their ambitions. Make a second map with a series of questions devised from the first, for example a boy who wanted to be a singer could be asked: "What kind of singer do you want to be?"

* Visit local art exhibitions.

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