Illustrative Examples of Units of Practice

Self-Portrait: One Little Space In My Life That's Ok


Students will create a self-portrait using photomontage to tell a visual story and demonstrate an understanding of the influence of David Hockney’s style. They must also research a Cubist artist and show the relationship between Cubism and David Hockney’s "Joiner Photographs".


Learning Level: 10-12

Author(s): L. Martina


A teenager’s bedroom is often her only place of autonomy and privacy In it, the teenager establishes individuality. The bedroom is a reflection of her personality. Students will visually research their bedrooms to identify the ways in which they reflect their personalities. Self-portraits are a means used by artists to reveal themselves to the public. Students will create a self-portrait using photomontage in the style of David Hockney’s Joiner Photographs. During the process of creating this, they will research Cubism, a style that influenced Hockney. They will entertain the questions:

What does the work of David Hockney have to do with Cubism?

How many similarities can you find?



The project can be divided into four components. Each component can be limited or extended.

1. Research Cubism and Cubist artists:

Cubism (1906 - 1920) is an art history term for a style of art developed by the artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braques. In Cubism, the subject matter is broken up into geometric shapes and forms. The forms are analyzed and then put back together into an abstract composition. Often three-dimensional objects seem to be shown from many different points of view at the same time. Students should have an understanding of early, analytical and synthetic Cubism by the end of this project.

2. Instruction, demonstration and practice with mediaequipment.

3. Creation of artwork

4. Critique, evaluation and installation. Student work is presented to their classmates during a critique. Self, peer and teacher evaluation take place. Actual work is presented to the public and work can be posted on the school’s Visual Art Web site. Students are responsible for storing a digital image on disk for portfolio evaluation at semester’s end.


1. Visual Arts educator gives presentation on Cubism using slides, web images, art texts and notes.

2. Discussion of Cubist artists and their intent.

3. View David Hockney’s work.

4. Discuss connection between Hockney and Cubists.

5. Students choose artist to research.

6. Handouts for the project are given to students, teacher librarian and posted on school’s visual art web site for future reference. This handout can make reference to other Cubist artists that students may want to study:

Alexander Archipenko (1887-1964) Russia; Robert Delaunay (1885-1941) French; Fernand Leger (1881-1973) French; Jacques Lipchitz (1891- 1963) French; Jacques Villon (1875-1963) French.

7. Workshop by teacher librarian on EBSCO (periodical data base) search methods and web searches (Coppernic Basic).

Research and project work start. Students move freely from art classroom that has limited technology (5 computers, scanner, digital cameras, printers) to library (20 computers, scanner, editing equipment, printers and

photocopy machine as they research their chosen artist.

8. Class discussions are held about students’ bedrooms and how personal space differs from person to person. "Am I a neat freak or a super slob? Why?" "How does this space reflect ME? It important that students understand their personal influence on that space.

9. Visual Arts educator gives workshop on use of equipment: 35mm still camera, digital camera, disposable camera, or Polaroid camera. Film and video classes will need an introduction to the use of the video camera, tripods, computer, and editing equipment.

Students who are familiar can help teach other students.

If the students are using the 35mm camera for the first time, some discussion of film choice (ASA) is necessary. Some students may not know how to use more fundamental equipment such as photocopy machine.

10. Discussions can take place around the aesthetic of color verses black and white.

11. Timeline for project is developed by students for:

A. film purchase

B. film development

C. developed film to class

D. research and project completion

E. research, project presentation and critique

F. self evaluation

G. student/educator evaluation

Flexibility is important here. Same day film processing is beyond some student budgets. However, guidelines help everyone to complete the project by a set date.

12. Self-portrait photomontage viewing, cutting, and compositional arrangement begins. Students may choose to scan, enlarge, photocopy, crop, alter, and reprint. Students on a limited budget may want to shoot less film and make copies. Students discuss their layouts with each other and the art educator. Having other teachers or artists drop in and casually participate in the process often helps the compositional process.

13. Arrangements are made on paper many times before gluing.


Visual Arts educator, students and teacher librarian work together on research methods. The teacher librarian is presented with the project and expected outcomes. Art educator and teacher librarian meet, discuss project, select reference materials, and set the date for workshop.

Visual arts educator with students, and students with students work together to discuss composition. The most challenging part of this project will be solving compositional problems. Planning should be evident to prevent static results. The student directs the viewer’s gaze, creates visual interest and maintains the viewer’s attention.


Self evaluation of project :

Peer evaluation of project uses critique method. Art vocabulary should be encouraged. The photomontage should show the relationship of the person/subject to the environment in which they are photographed. Imagery should be used creatively by breaking up or fragmenting the original form and bringing it back together to create a new image.

The photomontage should have a storytelling quality that gives insight into the person/subject.

The student(s) should respond to the questions:

  1. Does the work meet the requirements of the assignment?
  2. In what ways does my work reflect both Cubism and Hockney?
  3. What does the Joiner Photograph tell viewers about the artist as a person?

Peer evaluation of research presentation uses a rubric. The students must present something of interest that they have discovered to the class that shows how Cubism relates to the artist.

The students should answer the questions :

  1. How is the work of David Hockney influenced by the Cubist artists Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, Georges Braques, and Marcel Duchamp?
  2. How was the work of these artists influenced by the late work of Paul Cezanne?

Art Educator Evaluation is a narrative format written after individual meeting with student.



Students already familiar with the Cubist movement were asked to research Cezanne’s late work and teach the class the connection between that and Cubism.

Students may repeat photographs of a particular part of their room in order to show the importance of a personal item. This could include pets, a musical instrument, a stuffed toy, art, a collection. They may want to remember that many famous photographs include hands due to the particularly expressive quality of the hands.