Note: This is a generic Unit Plan that would be modified for student age/grade, include consideration on diverse learners and inclusivity, and show prototypes and detailed procedures. It would also contain objectives contained in the local school ministry requisites. Finally, it would include cross-curricular competencies covered in the making & reflecting process, including the use of tech in the classroom.

Lesson Unit: Self-Portraits, Expressionism, and Oil Pastels

Introduction: Welcome to this art lesson unit on self-portraits, expressionism, and oil pastels. In this lesson, we will explore the meaning of self-portraits and how they can be used to express emotions and personality. We will also learn about expressionism as an art movement and how it can be used to convey feelings through art. Finally, we will work with oil pastels, a versatile medium that can be used to create vibrant and expressive artworks.

Learning Objectives:

  • Understand the purpose and meaning of self-portraits
  • Learn about the expressionism movement and its use of emotions in art
  • Explore the techniques and possibilities of oil pastels
  • Create a self-portrait using oil pastels and expressionist techniques


  • Oil pastels (a set of at least 12 colors)
  • White drawing paper
  • Pencils and erasers
  • Blending tools (tissues, cotton swabs, or blending stumps)
  • Reference photos of self-portraits and expressionist artworks (optional)

Lesson Plan:

  1. Introduction to Self-Portraits (15 minutes) Begin by discussing the concept of self-portraits. Ask students to define what a self-portrait is and why artists might create them. Show examples of famous self-portraits, such as Vincent van Gogh’s “Self-Portrait with Bandaged Ear” or Frida Kahlo’s “Self-Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird,” and discuss how these artworks express the artists’ personalities and emotions.
  2. Expressionism (20 minutes) Introduce the concept of expressionism as an art movement that emerged in the early 20th century. Discuss how expressionist artists used color, brushstrokes, and composition to convey intense emotions and subjective experiences. Show examples of expressionist artworks, such as Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” or Wassily Kandinsky’s “Composition VII,” and ask students to identify the emotions expressed in these artworks.
  3. Oil Pastel Techniques (20 minutes) Demonstrate various oil pastel techniques, such as layering colors, blending with fingers or tools, and creating textures. Encourage students to experiment with these techniques and create sample artworks using oil pastels.
  4. Self-Portrait Planning (15 minutes) Have students plan their self-portraits by sketching their faces and thinking about how they want to express themselves through color and composition. Students can use reference photos of self-portraits or expressionist artworks to inspire their ideas.
  5. Self-Portrait Creation (45 minutes) Using their plans as a guide, students will create their self-portraits using oil pastels and expressionist techniques. Encourage students to use bold colors and expressive brushstrokes to convey their emotions and personalities.
  6. Reflection (10 minutes) After completing their self-portraits, have students reflect on their artwork and what they learned during the lesson. Ask students to share their thoughts on how they used expressionist techniques and oil pastels to express themselves through their artwork.

Assessment: Students will be assessed based on their participation in class discussions, their ability to demonstrate oil pastel techniques, and their final self-portrait artworks. Emphasis will be placed on the use of expressive color and brushstrokes to convey emotions and personality.


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