Middle School

Grade Level: Middle school
Lesson Title: Blind contour self-portraits with emphasis on life reflection

Materials and Resources:

PowerPoint on Elizabeth “Grandma” Layton and her drawings
Student sketchbooks, mirrors, pencils, erasers, color pencils, 12×18” paper Reflection/personal assessment worksheet

Key Concepts: Students will learn about Elizabeth Layton’s personal struggles, which they may relate to, and how she confronted and conquered her inner demons and fears through drawing. This lesson is about growth and self-reflection. Students will be able to reflect on and recognize their reactions to current social issues that affect them personally.

Big Idea: Life cycles: Reflecting in old age


  1. StudentswilllearnaboutartistElizabethLayton,herlifehurdlesthatsheeventually overcame through drawing, and how she attributes making art to saving her life.
  2. Studentswilllearnabouttheblindcontourdrawingmethodduringaclasslecture. Using their sketchbooks and pencils, students will create a series of self-portrait

    sketches, practicing the blind contour drawing method.

  3. Studentswillreflectontheirfeelingsandreactionstocurrentsocialissues.

    Working in their sketch9books, students will create blind contour self-portraits, and

    attempt to convey emotions about the social issues in the drawings.

  4. Studentswilleachcreatelargerblindcontourdrawingson12x18”sheetsof

    paper. In these drawings, students will portray themselves and their reactions to a social event or issue in their lives. Once completed, students will title their pieces and write a self reflection on the drawings discussing what they represent. Students will assess whether they think they were successful in portraying emotion.

National Standards:
Visual Arts-Creating: Anchor standard 2: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas

and work. 8th VA:Cr2.1.8a “Demonstrate willingness to experiment, innovate, and take risks to pursue ideas, forms, and meanings that emerge in the process of art-making or designing”.

Visual Arts-Creating: Anchor standard 3: Refine and complete artistic work. 7th VA:Cr3.1.7a “Reflect on and explain important information about personal artwork in an artist statement or another format”.

Visual Arts-Responding: Anchor Standard 7: Perceive and analyze artistic work. 8th VA:Re.7.2.8a “Compare and contrast contests and media in which viewers encounter images that influence ideas, emotions, and actions”.

Visual Arts-Connecting: Anchor Standard 11: Relate artistic ideas and works with societal, cultural, and historical context to deepen understanding. 6th VA:Cn11.1.6a “Analyze how art reflects changing times, traditions, resources, and cultural uses”.

Lesson Timeframe: This lesson will take three class periods of 50 minutes each. The first will consist of an overview of the lesson, and its connection to the unit, with a power point showing images of Elizabeth Layton’s work. We will introduce and practice blind contour drawing in our sketchbooks.

The second lesson will consist of discussing the social issues and concerns that are happening, or the students have experienced, and their reactions to them. We will continue practicing blind contour drawing, while incorporating elements and feelings that coincide with the social issues the students chose to reference.
The last class period will consist of students creating a blind contour drawing on a large piece of paper that references a social issue of their choice. Students will used color pencil to add elements of color to their drawings. Lastly, they will write a brief reflection of their artwork and fill out a personal assessment worksheet.

Lesson Description:

  • Students will view a power point introducing them to artist Elizabeth Layton and become familiar with her artwork while learning about blind contour drawing.
  • Using hand mirrors, students will practice blind contour drawing. They will create 3-5 self-portraits using this drawing method.
  • In a class discussion, students will brainstorm current and historical social events and issues that have impacted their lives and childhoods.
  • Students will reflect on their emotions and reactions pertaining to their chosen issues. Using sketchbooks, students will continue practicing the blind contour drawing while attempting to convey their emotions and reactions to the issues.
  • Students will be instructed to reflect on their chosen social issue, and draw themselves and their reaction to the issue in a blind contour drawing. After completed, students will uncover their drawings and add color pencil to emphasize elements in their drawings.
  • When the drawings are completed, students will be given a reflection/self assessment worksheet. Reflecting and responding to their own work, students will complete the assessments.