Identity – Part 2 – Portraiture

Students look at mixed media techniques used by artists to deconstruct and reconstruct meaning shaping their identity to an art audience.

Students investigate the concept of 'identity' through an exploration of portraiture within artmaking practice. Students look at mixed media techniques used by artists to deconstruct and reconstruct meaning shaping their identity to an art audience.


  • 4.1 uses a range of strategies to explore different artmaking conventions and procedures to make artworks.
  • 4.2 explores the function of and relationships between the artist - artwork - world - audience.
  • 4.3 makes artworks that involve some understanding of the frames.
  • 4.5 investigates ways to develop meaning in their artworks.


1-2 weeks.

Driving question

How do the images around us define and shape our identity?


Students will explore the genre of portraiture within practice. They will investigate conceptual and material conventions and procedures for art making through the creation of a subjective artwork.

  • Work, employment and enterprise
  • Civics and citizenship
  • Information and communication technology.


All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all assessment for learning activities.

Teaching and learning activities

Students will:

Students will need:
  • computer or phones or digital device
  • A3 paper (plain or cartridge)
  • 6B Progresso pencils (an alternative will be acceptable)
  • charcoal
  • pastels
  • watercolours
  • ink.

Students will:

  • write a reflection in their books answering the questions below
    • How do others perceive you?
    • How would you like to be perceived?
  • create a table of emotions, colours and symbols to assist in the design of a self-portrait using mixed media materials. For example:
Image: Example of the emotions table exercise
  • create a self-portrait based on a photo of themselves
  • transfer the outline of your portrait onto an A3 piece of paper
  • watch the video How to Draw Faces (19:21)
  • watch the video Watercolour background wash tutorial (05:12)
  • select a colour (or two) that represents the emotions in their portrait
  • create a watercolour wash background for their A3 portrait
  • use charcoal and highlights to add tone, texture and contrast to refine each layers of their image. Examples have been provided below.
Image: Year 7 sample artworks, Elizabeth Macarthur High School, 2010. Image by C. Redmond.

Written responses are documented and shared within collaborative discussion facilitated by the teacher.

Students are to:

  • document the process of their artmaking within a journal. This can be their visual arts process diary, or an online blog through sites such as Google classroom
  • photograph or sketch the process used
  • write a response about the process.



Students could:

  • create a portrait that communicates an emotion without clear facial expression
  • apply other materials to the artwork (under the discretion of the teacher) to incorporate a symbol of their choice.

Life skills


  • LS 6 makes a variety of artworks that reflect experiences, responses or a point of view.

Students could:

  • draw a portrait of themselves
  • draw a portrait of their classmate.


Feedback is formative for the duration of the project.


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Visual Arts 7–10 Syllabus (2003) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.

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