Lesson Plan: Lichtenstein Pop Art Self-Portrait

My self-portrait exemplar

Pop Art is an exciting genre to teach. I find that my students are easily are excited about any kind of art that they perceive as heavily referencing their culture. . . i.e. “pop” culture. And, even though the Pop Art you and I think of is not really our students’ current culture (it is more the 1960’s), there are residual elements of that culture still around today.

I love to teach Pop Art, but I’m really over all of the Warhol projects. Honestly, they bore me to death. A lot of this stems from the fact that I’m not exactly a huge fan of Warhol or his art. Was the guy a genius? Absolutely? Did he turn the art world on its head? For sure. Was he a huge jerk who used his subjects cruelly? Yeah. I know the whole “that artist was a jerk” philosophy can be applied to a lot of artists (Schiele, Degas, Michelangelo just to name a few). The issue I have is that Warhol is so contemporary, and when his artwork is filtered down to a student project, I fail to see my (note I say “my” ’cause it might be how I teach to them) students get authentically engaged. Jerkiness + boring = no good for me.

They get bored. REAL bored. They tire of copying the same thing over and over. They “putt” out in the last portions and I’m left with one or two pieces that are truly phenomenal and the rest are just kind of “meh.”

Instead, I focus on the still highly famous, but less talked about in the classroom, artists like Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Wayne Thiebaud, and Claes Oldenburg.

I’m trying to incorporate more and more of the “Teaching to Artistic Behavior” philosophy into my classroom. And, as such, my students will have two product choices for our Pop Art Unit: a Roy Lichtenstein inspired portrait and a Wayne Thiebaud cake design. I’ve seen similar versions of this Lichtenstein project done elsewhere online. This is the version I’ve been doing for a few years now. I prefer to only do the facial tones in the dot matrix and leave the rest fully painted.

Here is the Power-Point we will use in class. I’ve modified a great PPT I found online. You’ll find the original cited on the front page of the presentation:

Here is my how-to steps for students:

I can’t wait to post what the students’ products look like!

5 thoughts on “Lesson Plan: Lichtenstein Pop Art Self-Portrait”

  1. the watercolor paint and pencil eraser to make the dots is a good idea. when I've done this lesson in the past we have had to draw all our dots…talk about frustrating. I wonder how it would work with tempera paint so you could use more people colors. I wish they had “people” color watercolor paint….

  2. Hannah! Aw! I love your Warhol portraits. I think the newsprint in the background is a really great touch.Ms. Art Teacher. . .I'm with you on the “people” colors. But, at the same time, when you look up close at newsprint, they don't have much in the way of “people” colors. So, I'm telling my students to choose from yellow, orange, red, or brown. And, wow, I shudder at the idea of asking my kids to draw all those dots. They'd lose interest reeeaaaalll quick!Katie- Haha! I didn't even know it had been pinned. I had a ton of fun doing it. I'm thinking it may need to be my FB picture for awhile.

  3. Do you have pictures of the student works? I love this lesson idea and want to try it with my 7th graders!

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