“The Faces of Canada”

The Kingston Prize Education Program

Art teacher overseeing work by studentsThe Faces of Canada Educational Program provides youth and seniors in the Kingston community the unique opportunity to participate in a national event, the Kingston Prize Association Portrait competition, showcasing thirty diverse portraits of Canadians.

The participants are invited to attend the exhibition to be inspired by art, to learn about portraiture, to learn art techniques and to continue the narrative back in their classrooms and residences through reflections and culminating lessons.

Lessons have been developed by Nancy Douglas, artist and educator

Lesson 1 | What is a Portrait?

Synopsis: The term portrait painting is often used to describe an artwork that depicts a human. Throughout history portraits were painted of people who could afford to hire an artist. They often tell a story, either about the person in the painting or about a specific time period. The viewer can discover this story and come to understand the person by careful looking. Clues left by the artist can be analyzed.

Art terms, face ratios, portrait drawings

Students learn to read a portrait. Analyzing portraiture brings the viewer closer to the artist and the subject of the artwork. Students will gain insight into the story behind the paintings.

Equipment: Smart board or laptop projection
Reference Materials: PowerPoint/PDF Slideshow, Handouts
Supplies Needed: Rulers, pencils, drawing paper

PowerPoint or PDF Slides, (20-30 Minutes)

Download PowerPoint »
Download PDF of the presentation »

Using handouts and PowerPoint provided, students review art terms, and “How to read a portrait?” The PowerPoint highlights terminology and then employs the terms, leading the class through an analysis of three Kingston Prize portraits from previous years, with class discussion. Additional portraits can be found on the Kingston Prize website and projected, or ‘screenshared’ for virtual learning. Using the terminology daily is encouraged; the website has many examples of portraits and artist statements.

Individual learning: research one of the Prize finalists!

Faces of Canada Game

Download the PDF Handout »
Download Teacher Answer Sheet »

Canadian Faces Game Handouts/Rulers/Pencils (20-30 Minutes)
Distribute one of the Faces to each student. There are thirty Faces in total, one for each person playing the game. These photos are of historic/famous Canadians-students may or may not be able to recognize the person photographed. The photo faces are numbered, and listed on a separate Teacher Answer sheet, to be divulged at the end of the exploration. The identity is kept secret.

Using a ruler and pencil, ask students to draw directly onto the face in the photo copy. The ratios will not be the same from one photo to another; each face will have some differences. Follow the prompts below to lead students through the exploration. The measurements are made to find out if the face has ‘textbook’ ratios.

Steps to follow:
• What’s the overall shape of this face? Circle-oval-square-rectangle-triangle? Draw that shape onto the face.
• Using a ruler, draw a vertical line down the middle of the face dividing the nose in half.
• Find the top of the skull! Mark that spot. The eyes should be about halfway between top of skull and chin. Draw a horizontal line across the eyes.
• Find the hairline (or where the hairline used to be) at the top of the forehead. From the hairline to the chin the face can be divided into three parts. 1. Draw a horizontal line at the eye brows. 2. Draw a horizontal line at the tip of the nose. Measure. Is the face divided into thirds?
• How wide is the face? Measure from side to side at the widest part.
• Now measure the width of one eye.
• How many eyes would fit across the face? Divide the eye width into the face width for the answer. (Answer: Usually 5 eye widths will fit across the width of a face.)
• Can you find the tops of the ears in your photograph? With what do the tops of the ears line up? (Answer: usually the eyebrows)
• What is the measurement between tip of nose and chin? Where does the mouth fit in? Draw a horizontal line between the lips. Is it halfway between the nose and chin? Measure. (Answer: usually one third down from nose.)
• Bonus Question! Who is this Canadian? Research? Ask a classmate?
• Hints from Teacher list? Students reveal identity/story of their Canadian.

What Do You Really Look Like?

Pencils/14” X 17” White Drawing Paper, 20-30 Minutes

Using pencil, students draw a portrait of a classmate, head and shoulders only. Students are encouraged to draw one another using steps in Art Exploring section above. Two desks are put together to allow for students to sit across from each other, or if doing this virtually – a prior screenshot can be made for photocopying.

• Portrait face should be at least life size or larger
• Ask students to make a line drawing-shading can be done later if desired
• Take measurements of the sitter’s face, live or on photocopy of screenshot
• Ask students to see the features as shapes
• Relax! Have fun! There are no mistakes. It’s a process.

Lesson 2 | What is a Gesture?

Synopsis: A gesture drawing is a quick, energetic, three dimensional drawing, having lines that are dynamic, not static. It captures the movement and emotion of the model. A gesture drawing is not photo realistic. Instead, the focus is on the underlying structure and how the ‘structure’ is moving in space. They have long been used by artists, animators and comic/story board artists to prepare, explore and/or ‘flesh out’ an idea. Part 1 – students learn to draw an object using gesture; Part 2 – students make sketches of human skeletons and gesture drawings of classmates

Part 1 Tornadoes, Springs and Apples
Students learn to draw an object using gesture.

Part 2 Skeletons and Gestures
Students make sketches of human skeleton and gesture drawings of classmates

Equipment: Smart board or laptop projection
Reference Materials: PowerPoint, Handouts
Art Supplies Needed: ½ stick of black Conté (medium softness), 18” x 24” newsprint, pencils, white 14” X 17” drawing paper & one apple each

Part 1 requires one apple each for everyone.
Part 2 desks may need to be rearranged.

PowerPoint or PDF Slide Projection or Photocopied, (Intro 5 Minutes)

Download PowerPoint »
Download PDF of presentation »

The PowerPoint defines terminology for gesture drawing and illustrates the use of gesture by artists for exploratory sketches. The PowerPoint is designed to be used while in the act of drawing. Teacher and Students can follow each step outlined in the presentation leading the class through Part 1: warm up drawings, gesture drawings and full apple portraits, and Part 2: skeleton sketches and gestures of model/classmate.

Tornadoes, Springs and Apples
(See detailed instructions within PowerPoint)
Warm Ups! ½ Conté Stick, Newsprint (20-30 Minutes)

At the beginning of class, or at slide number 7, distribute two pages of 18” X 24” newsprint and ½ conte stick to each student. If necessary, pages can be folded in half lengthwise one inside the other to make a 12” X 18” booklet. This will give good padding for drawing, and fit most desk sizes.

Slide 13: Distribute one apple to each student (more newsprint?)

Slide 16-22: If time allows, extend the gesture drawing of the apple to a full, shaded apple portrait as illustrated in the PowerPoint (hand out white drawing paper for this). Depending on schedule and students, you may want to break here and continue Part 2 Skeletons and Gestures another day.

Part 2 Art Making: Skeletons and Gestures begins at slide 24

Download Skeleton Handout »

Supplies: Skeleton Handout/one sheet white drawing paper/pencil,
then newsprint and drawing stick (conte) for gestures

Distribute Skeleton handouts to students along with white paper and pencil. Students are asked to make a study sketch of the skeleton. This 10-20-minute exercise will greatly improve student’s awareness of the human structure and how it moves. Some students will be very interested in this activity and should be encouraged to continue drawing the skeleton as much as they can.

• The sketch can include shading
• The size of the sketch should be at least the size as in the photo copy
• As the drawing unfolds, encourage students to make notations on the photocopy regarding ratios of the skeleton, e.g. halfway from the top of the skull to the heel is the hip joint. How long are the legs compared to the arms? etc.
Two sheets of newsprint each and conte drawing stick.
• The PowerPoint shows gesture drawings, and pinpoints some things to look for when drawing a gesture of a human. Students volunteer to be the clothed model and make dynamic poses for classmates to draw gestures.
• Desks are rearranged. Depending on classroom, you may want to have a central aisle for the student model to pose. It is best if students are not looking over top of one another.
• I often begin by speaking to students about respecting the volunteer model. I thank the student model for agreeing to pose, and tell them they are in charge, and we will follow their lead.
• Gestures should be fun and not highly realistic or finished looking.
• For virtual learning, a video could be made of simple movements of clothed model. There are Youtube videos showing gestures, clothed models.

Lesson 3 | What’s Inside My Face?

Synopsis: Making a portrait relies on the information an artist gathers by drawing and painting the sitter. The artist’s knowledge of the human skull and musculature improves the likeness.

Students learn about the human skull, and musculature. Students make sketches of the skull, and make an amusing self portrait.

Equipment: Smart board or laptop projection, handheld mirrors, one each, or for virtual learners, instruct the student to adjust screen to largest live ‘self portrait’
Reference Materials: PowerPoint, Handouts copied on good quality paper
Art Supplies: 14” X 17” white drawing paper, white glue*, oil pastels, crayons
Supplies: Rulers, pencils, scissors*

What’s Inside My Face?

PowerPoint or PDF Slides, (10-20Minutes)

The PowerPoint presents different views of the human skull and musculature, concentrating on pre 1950 anatomical drawings and etchings.

Presentation talking points:
• accuracy of the etchings
• how long ago they were made
• connection between the sciences and art

In the last part of the presentation, the Anatomical Musculature Handout and handheld mirrors are needed to facilitate “Making Faces” (Slide 12). This activity asks students to make faces in the mirror and watch the muscles of their face. Using the Anatomical Musculature handout, the facial muscles can be explored. Elaborate using iPads; students could take photos or screenshots of each other making their best funny face. This activity also lends itself to speed drawings using pencil. Quick sketches of funny expressions of oneself or others can be made.

The end of the PowerPoint presentation connects to Art Exploring, which also requires a mirror, or screen that facilitates self-viewing.

Art Exploring could be scheduled on another day.

Imagining Your Skull

Sobotta Skull Handouts, handheld mirrors, and paper (20 minutes)

Distribute skull handouts, white drawing paper and handheld mirrors to students. Ask students not to draw directly onto the photo copy as they will need it later. Using pencil, students recreate the skull in the handout. Drawings should be larger than Sobotta Skull. While drawing the skull, students are asked to occasionally look at their face in the mirror, and compare structures. For example: A student can feel the shape of their cheekbone (zygomatic bone), locate the cheekbone on the skull handout, while making a sketch of the same area.

Students can be reminded of the measuring, and comparing skills they practiced while playing the Faces of Canada Game in Lesson 1. Skull sketches can be line drawings or shaded.

Self Portrait as a Skull

Oil Pastels, 14” X 17” Drawing Paper, White Glue, Scissors, Mirrors (30 Minutes)

1. Using oil pastels, students create self portraits drawing on Sobotta skull handout. While looking in the mirror for reference, students discover where their likeness would be, in reference to the skull. This is a fun art activity, and not meant to be a realistic portrait. The goal is to experiment with oil pastels and practice looking at the sitter(themselves)-not just the artwork. Students who don’t normally enjoy art will find this activity fun, as the skull gives a base to start with and the finished work can be humorous.

2. *Once the portrait is complete, the likeness (with hair) is cut out of the photo copy paper and glued into place on a piece of drawing paper.

3. Using oil pastels again, students can finish their self portrait adding clothing, setting, etc.

*This step may be omitted for time constraints or issues with glue/scissors.

Pages 3-6: self portraits by students aged 6-10 years old.

Lesson 4 | Who Am I?

Synopsis: Settings, objects, costumes and concepts: how do these combine to tell the story of the sitter? If you made a portrait of yourself, what objects would you include? Would you be yourself? Does what the sitter is wearing give you clues to who they are?

Students discuss the Kingston Prize Education Program content and what art explorations they would like to engage in next. Individually, students reflect and write about the program. The PowerPoint presentation uses Kingston Prize portraits with a focus on setting and objects. Students write short paragraphs about themselves. Self portraits are made using personal objects and settings.

This lesson could be divided into three units.

Equipment: Smart board or laptop for projection, handheld mirrors
Reference Materials: PowerPoint, Student Reflection Handout, “How to Read a Portrait?” Handout from Lesson 1
Art Supplies: 14” X 17” white drawing paper, oil pastels (or crayons/markers)
Class Preparation: Prior to class, students are asked to visualize their space at home or a setting of their choice. Are there meaningful objects that could be included in a self portrait narrative? Students will be asked to include personal items as part of the lesson’s Art Making section. Students are encouraged to take photos of objects and settings to use in class.

What did I learn from the Faces of Canada Education Program?

Reflection Handout (5-10 Minutes)

For classroom groups, students can break out into discussion groups and talk about what they have learned, what their favourite aspects of the lessons were and what art activities they would like to explore further. Students can refer to their journals if they have been analyzing the 30 Prize Finalists and need to jog their memory. Viewing the portraits online may also aid student’s descriptions in their reflections. The reflection handout can be accomplished individually or in small groups. Students may ‘vote’ to revisit some of the drawing games and lessons in future classes.

Who Am I? Settings, Objects, Costumes and Concepts

(PowerPoint Presentation and Personal Paragraph Writing 20-30 minutes)

The PowerPoint presents past and current Kingston Prize portraits that use objects, costumes, settings and concepts in the narrative. Using the handout “How to Read a Portrait?” from Lesson One, the class analyzes the portraits. Each portrait presented is repeated to reveal the artist’s statement in the second slide. In this way, students can analyze first, then discover the artist’s intention. Although there are question prompts with the slides, some more probing questions follow.

Questions you may want to ask:
• Do the objects in the portrait connect to the setting?
• Are the objects subtle in the way they’re painted?
• Do the objects point to something, or the sitter?
• Do the objects add to the composition?
• Would the portrait be just as good without them?
• Why do you think the artist included the objects/and setting?

Further exploration and analyzing is fun using the portraits available online at www.kingstonprize.ca

The last slide in the presentation contains a list of elements and asks students to write a brief paragraph about themselves and what is important to them. Depending on grade level and student’s abilities, the self portrait writing component could become creative writing in the form of a journal entry or poem.

Who Am I?

Supplies: Oil Pastels, 14” X 17” drawing paper, handheld mirrors (30-60 minutes)

Students are asked to include some of the following: personal objects, costume, and setting to portray a real or imagined scene that tells their story. To make an accurate likeness, students should use a handheld mirror, an existing photograph of themselves, or screen shot.

Self Portraits: Words become pictures
Using their personal paragraph as research, students-

  • Make a list!
    1. What will be my setting, real or imagined?
    2. What objects could I include?
    3. What am I wearing?
    4. Is there a theme, or am I portraying a character?
  • Make a light sketch- using pencil or light-coloured oil pastel
    1. Does a horizontal or vertical composition work best?
    2. Draw the setting or background first. Remember to make light lines. No shading yet. The artwork is to be made with oil pastels. If time allows, students may wish to make a short pencil sketch first, then begin again on a new sheet of paper. The finished artwork is not a pencil drawing but oil pastel (or crayon/marker)
    3. What are you doing?
    4. Objects? Where are they?
  • Use oil pastels to fill in, shade and embellish the self portrait.

Have an exhibition of completed self portraits in classroom or online!