Visual Arts: Portraits

Materials Required:

  • Printed list of elements & principals of Visual Arts
  • Internet access to website

Activity Time: Ideally 15-30 minutes

Concepts Taught:
Creative process, reinforce visual art vocabulary, analyze artistic choices in various media, critical thinking skills in identifying elements and principles of visual art. Recall of Art mediums, projects, artists as well as listening, concentration and memorization skill.

Introduce portrait concept and brainstorm & discuss examples of classic portraits.

Review vocabulary list:

Elements of visual arts: Color, Hue, Intensity, Value, Line, Shape, Form, Texture, Space

Key principals: Balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial), Emphasis, Pattern/Repetition, Rhythm, Movement, Unity, Variety

Consult artist biographies for background/context of individual artists

View videos, Evaluate/Ask questions:

Compare & contrast paintings of Sarah Brokke and masks of Mary Plaster.

  • Name three elements of visual art used by each artist?
  • How does each artist approach Form and how does that influence the result? Compare & contrast paintings of Sarah Brokke and murals by Scott Murphy.
  • Which elements/principals are important to these individual artists?
  • How does their background reflect in topic and technique?

Play Game:
This is a great game for use as an engaging activity or reward once assigned work is completed. The first student, or teacher, names an element or principal of visual art. Students fill in artist and describe how the example fits the category.


  • Color
  • Hue
  • Intensity
  • Value
  • Line
  • Shape
  • Form
  • Texture
  • Space


  • Balance (symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial)
  • Emphasis
  • Pattern/Repetition
  • Rhythm
  • Movement
  • Unity
  • Variety

"Today in art class we watched three videos from The PlayList. Give me an example of who used Texture and how?” The response must reference specific art terminology and include at least a project and a medium or an artist.

You can have competitions between tables to see who can get the furthest through the list, in any given period of time, and be able to repeat their progress to the class.

Funding for this program is provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. Click here for more information or visit the Minnesota Legacy website.

Clean Water, Land & Legacy Amendment