• Black Widow with Brothers Fighting

    Noah Davis, Black Widow with Brothers Fighting. Oil on canvas, 52 x 60 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

  • Ivenlaw III (study)

    Kehinde Wiley, Ivelaw III (study). Pencil and oil on paper, 27 1/2 x 21 1/2 inches. Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

  • Demolition (Ping’an Avenue Beijing)

    Zhang Dali, Demolition (Ping’an Avenue Beijing). C-Print, 35 3/8 x 23 5/8 inches. Collection of the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Self Portraits of the Past, Present and Future

Visual Arts

Grade 1

5: American Contributions

4 40-minute lessons


How can I represent myself creatively?

I can make a self portrait.
I can use my imagination to make art.
I can tell you why and how I made my art.

Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University

Day 1

Direct Instruction

Display the artwork images. Lead a discussion on the features of the portraits that they like. Discuss the shapes, patterns, colors, textures, and the background.

Work with students in small groups to project and trace two silhouettes of their profiles.

Guided Practice

Students will assist in tracing each other’s silhouettes.

Day 2

Direct Instruction

Demonstrate how to cut out the silhouettes, being sure to remind the students to stay on the pencil lines to preserve both the negative and the positive parts of the silhouette.

Guided Practice

Have students cut out their silhouettes and glue them to a white background sheet.

Day 3

Direct Instruction

Brainstorm images that could be used to represent the students’ past, present and future selves.

Generate a list of ideas. Some ideas for past may include a landmark from where they grew up, or an image of the country or state where they where born. Images for the present could be a hobby, a favorite book, toy or sport. The future may be a vocation they hope to go on.

Demonstrate how to use a search engine to find images from the brainstorming session.

Show the students how to print the images.

Guided Practice

Students will participate in the brainstorming session. Then, they will write about one image they want to include for past, one for future, and one for present.

They will take their writing to the computer lab to find and print images to use in their mixed media piece.

Day 4

Direct Instruction

Show students how to add pastel to their art piece and glue down their printed images.

Guided Practice

Have students add detail to their artwork. They may want to add more hand-drawn images and/or create a border for their portraits. Allow students the opportunity to personalize their artwork.

Materials Needed

black construction paper, white construction paper, pastels, overhead projector, pencils, scissors


silhouette, self-portrait, technique, positive space, negative space

Artwork in this Lesson

  • Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University
    • Kehinde Wiley | Ivenlaw III (study)