Name of Project: Portraiture and Pattern

School/Teacher/Classroom or Arts Organization/Mentor: Gregory Rose, Minnesota Community Technical College

Grade Level or Age of Participants: 18+

MCAD Teaching Artist:  Zach North

Number of Students: 22

Overview of Project

The students will have two weeks to draw a self-portrait with a patterned background as they begin to address pattern and texture in their drawing technique development. The pattern must have a conceptual backing that the students feel passionately about. The students can use mirrors or photos of themselves for references.

“Big Ideas”/ Essential QUESTION(s)  

The Students will wrestle with what it means to depict yourself in a drawing and the importance of pattern. They will have to think about why their pattern matters for the piece.

What is a concept in art? How does that differ from subject? 

Student Outcome Objectives

Students will:

1. Understand the meaning of their chosen pattern.

2. Apply the pattern to their piece.

3. Analyze how effectively they got the meaning across. 

Prior Knowledge

It will require a foundation of drawing on which to build on and to have an idea of the elements of composition.

Examples of Artwork

A PowerPoint that includes the artists Kehideh Wiley, Gustav Klimt, Caledonia Curry, Njideka Akunyili, Elias Kafouros, and Mickalene Thomas.

Additional Resources


At the end of the two weeks the students will have a critique addressing the objectives of the lesson, everyone’s work will get hung up and as a class the students will give everyone feedback one by one. This gives the students an opportunity to learn from their peers and to give their own insights to their peers.


The students will need paper, and the rest of the materials will vary with each student’s process and chosen pattern.

Learning Activities and Timing

1. Before class set out any materials you have for the students to work from.

2. Once class starts take 15 minutes to run through a PowerPoint showing artist’s work that deals with figures and pattern. Make sure to also give lots of pattern examples.

3. After that give the students work time for the rest of class and circle the room facilitating any questions they may have.

4. The following week start class again with a small PowerPoint showing more pattern and helping to reinvigorate the students.

5. At the end hold a critique, making sure that every student participates and gets to have their work talked about.

Teaching Artist Reflection

Students may struggle with finding a concept for their pattern and may slip into a decretive pattern. Make sure to talk one on one with them and help them to create a concept behind their pattern. It could be personal symbols or memories.