Introduction to Portraits

Portrait: A painting, drawing, photograph, engraving, or sculpture of a person, especially one depicting only the face or head and shoulders.

Self-portrait: A portrait of an artist produced or created by that artist. 

Portaits can also be of groups of people or animals.


Art Terms



Color Scheme 


Environment/ Landscape 


Frida Kahlo

Mexican, Born 1907. Best known for her self portraits that she completed after being confined to bed for three months following a bus accident. 

Work 1:  Self Portrait with Necklace of Thorns,  1940

Work 2: Thinking About Death, 1943

Work 3: Diego in My Thoughts, 1940

Work 4: Self Portrait Along the Boarder Line Between Mexico and the United States, 1932

(Sources linked to artwork names)

What do each of these animals represent?

Kihende Wiley 

American, born 1977. Best known for his large oil paintings depicting African American Men in classical poses. 

Work 1:  Saint Adrian, 2006

Work 2: Ice T, 2005

Work 3: President Barack Obama, 2018

(Sources linked to artwork names)

Kehinde Wiley: The art of presidential portraits

Vivian Maier

American, Born 1926. She worked as a nanny in Chicago for 40 years and took thousands of photographs of daily life. Her work only became publicly known after she died. 

Work 1:  Untitled

Work 2: 1959. Los Angeles, CA

Work 3: 1955. New York, NY

Work 4: Chicago, IL

(Sources linked to artwork names)

Why do these two women look so surprised?

Johannes Vermeer

Dutch, born 1632. Known for hyper realistic interior scenes with rich color schemes. 

Work 1:  Girl with a Pearl Earring

Work 2: The Love Letter

Work 3: The Milkmaid

(Sources linked to artwork names)

What is unusual about her earring? 

Essential Vermeer

How to Draw the Head from Any Angle


Drawing Exercise

Take 10 minutes to draw a self portrait. Afterwards you will have the opportunity to share what you drew.