Split Self Portrait featured image

Grade Level

9-10, 11-12


4 weeks; Block schedule – seeing students 2x a week for 90 mins and 1x a week for 50 mins. We spend the first week planning and creating sketches and drafts. We also peer critique in class before starting the final. 


Students select which medium to use for their pieces after completing a “Materials Study” laid out for them in the Project File


Mixed media

Lesson Objectives

The student will…

  • learn about the life and works of Wassily Kandinsky.
  • learn what abstract art is and be able to identify an abstract artwork.
  • create Kandinsky-style abstract works of art.

Introductory Activity

Students will follow a specific format to document their preparation for the assignment. See the Split Self Portrait Project File in the resource section of this lesson/ Students will have the option to free-hand or grid their image in the final piece. Students will practice drawing freehand as well as with a grid in their sketchbook to help evaluate which approach is the best option for them. As a class students will talk about the assignment and the two drawing methods in helping decide which approach works best for each student.

Next, in their sketchbook, students will list things or objects they can use to reflect who they are. The students can draw a small sketch next to each written description.
Next, in their sketchbooks students will sketch half of their face and the other half of their image will be those objects/things that they listed earlier.

Next, students will select media. Again, students will follow a specific format in their sketchbook to help them decide. Students select two different materials that they are considering to complete the final project with. A few ideas of materials you could use include:

  • Graphite pencil
  • Graphite pencils & Colored Pencils
  • Micron Pen & Watercolor
  • Micron Pen & Colored Pencils
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Mixed Media

In a box in their sketchbook labeled Material Study #1, students draw a quick sketch of part of their face and one of the objects. Add one of your selected materials to that sketch. In another box labeled Material Study #2, students draw another quick sketch of a different part of their face and a different object from their list. Students submit these images (for this teacher, digitally through their Google Classroom).

Lesson Process

Demonstrate several of these methods on white paper for the students.  When finished, have students practice on their own papers. After students have practiced the techniques, they can then start on a final painting.

geometric shapes
straight lines-linear
primary colors
pattern, repetition, and movement
lots of energy
layers-color pieces
pastel on top of watercolor
colored pencil
keep parts of the paper white
push/pull with negative space
sweeping movements
some areas less and some more
spin wrist
resist/white oil pastel or crayon

Share pictures that they made and discuss.  Discuss whether students enjoy abstract art or realism?  Why?


texture, implied texture, proportion, enlargement, value, form, highlight, shadow, emphasis



Author & Website/Blog

Rachel E. Utecht

Supporting Images