Trailblazers: Create Your Own Artwork




Draw a portrait [or your own self-portrait], in two steps: the studio version and the final version.


Learning Expectations:


Students will demonstrate an understanding of composition, using selected elements and principles of design [emphasis, proportion and balance] to create an artwork.

Students will use art materials to determine solutions to a design challenge.

Students will interpret a variety of art works, and identify the feelings, issues, themes, and social concerns that they convey.




Photograph of Mildred Pierce

Portraits by Florence Carlyle, Eva Bradshaw, and Mary Healey.

Printed photo [or selfie] of a woman. Must be looking at the front – think of the rules for a passport photo (face and shoulders to the camera, straight-on, centered).

Blank Paper (8 x 10 sheet or similar)

Graphite Pencil






Part 1:


Students observe and discuss a selection of portraits and self-portraits by London women artists.


Analyze the principles of design according to the grade level:


Grade 4: Where did the artist want us to focus our attention? What resources did she use to create emphasis?

Grade 5: Did they follow traditional rules of proportion?

Use the attached guide as a reference. Did these conventions apply in these portraits?

Grade 6: Are they symmetrical or asymmetrical? How did the artist achieve balance?


Part 2:


Students identify and discuss the feelings, issues, themes, and social concerns that these portraits convey.


What can we learn from the women who were portraited in these paintings?


How many of them represent women at home or in an undetermined place?


Look at Florence Carlyle’s ‘Self-portrait’, 1904.

Where is the viewer situated?

What effect did the artist create when she represented herself as seen from below?

What conventions was she challenging as an artist?


Part 3:


Draw the ‘studio’ for a portrait.

What do you want people to know about your subject?

Look at these references:

Unknown photographer, Mildred Peel, undated.

Eva Bradshaw, Untitled, (Portrait of a Young Girl), undated


Using the photo of your subject as a reference, draw the first version of your portrait following these steps


a. Draw the eyes – halfway down the head. The space between the eyes should be approximately the width of an eye.

b. Draw the nose – the edges of the nostrils should line up with the tear ducts of the eyes.

c. Draw the head – it should be about five eyes wide.

d. Draw the mouth – the corners of the mouth line up with the pupils of the eyes.


Don’t worry if it doesn’t look perfect! It the ‘studio’ part of the project, a drawing that you’re making in preparation for your final artwork. Try as many times as necessary until you’re happy with the results.


This is just a reference. Look again at Eva Bradshaw’s ‘Portrait of a Young Girl’. The girl’s eyes are not aligned with each other (a form of strabismus known as exotropia). Many people live with that. She still was the model for a work of art!


As human beings, we are all unique, and there is beauty in any person.


Part 4:


(This fourth part is optional, depending on the time available)


Using your ‘studio’ as a reference, now it’s time to paint the portrait:


On a new piece of paper, copy the lines of your “studio” and proceed to work on other elements of design (line, colour and value).

Work on the details of the facial features (skin, eyes, mouth, ears and hair).

Add any distinctive elements that make your subject unique (it can be any facial feature -e.g. a mole or scar- or accessory -hat, earring, etc.-).

What do you want people to know from her? For instance, does she look happy or sad? Humbled or defiant?











Discover London Art: Digital Stories

Museum London Idea Incubator - Digital Solutions for Arts Education and Engagement

Pilot Testing Version | Produced by Triana Media for Museum London, May 2019