Abstract Portrait


  • Pencil
  • 8.5×11 paper (thumbnails)
  • 18×24 paper
  • Tempera paint
  • Palettes
  • Water cups
  • Brushes

For this assignment you will create an abstract portrait of a person you are close to.  Think of their personality.  Most people are multi-faceted and have many different aspects of their personality.  For example, someone may be very nice, also very stubborn, and very tenacious.

Next, think of different lines and shapes that you could use/combine to illustrate that person’s personality

Line direction:

  • Horizontal lines are generally associated with a person lying down.  Horizontal lines have the least amount of energy of all line directions.
  • Vertical lines are generally associated with a person standing up. Vertical lines have more energy than horizontal lines but are still considered to be very static.
  • Diagonal Lines are generally associated with a person mid-fall, or a person running.  Diagonal lines have the most energy of all the line directions.


Shapes can have a variety of meanings and are open to interpretation.  Here are some examples of different things shapes can mean

  • circles can mean eternity, closeness, can be associated with motherhood, or a cycle
  • triangles can be associated with feminism, or a trinity
  • squares can be associated with a trap, confinement, abiding by the rules

Start by drawing three thumbnails, three different ways to express the same personality.  Once your thumbnails are done choose the strongest one to be your final composition.  Draw this on the large paper.

Once your composition has been outlined in pencil it’s time to add color!  Choose colors that will help get your ideas across.  Remember that colors have associations too! Here are just a few examples:


  • Red: warmth, love, aggression, violence, luck
  • Green: vitality, nature, growth
  • Blue: water, fluidity, coldness, eternity
  • Purple: royalty, wealth

The key is to make deliberate decisions so that your composition sends a clear message about this person’s personality.

Lastly, you will write a 1 page artist statement explaining why you chose the shapes, lines, colors you did and how they visually represent the personality of the person you drew about.


  • Non-representational: not represent or depict a being, a place or a thing in the natural world
  • Artist statement: 1 pg paper on why you chose the line, shapes, and colors you did and how they relate back to the personality of your subject
  • Craftsmanship: painting is neat, decisions are deliberate, care has been taken with presentation



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