Expressionism Portraits: Alexei Jawlensky inspired- Grade Prep art lesson

This art lesson is suitable for Prep students (adaptable to Year 1 & 2) and I loved the way the artworks turned out. The use of colour is stunning! It will take 2-3 lessons depending on the class time allotment. I have hour lessons, so two and a bit of the next lesson gave enough time to discuss, explore, reflect and share.

Alexei Jawlensky (born 1864, died 1941) was a Russian Expressionist painter, (moved to Germany in 1896 and was a founding member of the New Munich Artist’s Association.) He is known mostly for his portrait art of heads and the use of bold, contrasting colours and strong directional brushstrokes.

The students viewed artworks by Jawlensky, describing what they saw, discussing use of colour, style of art, feelings conveyed.

‘Head’ 1910 by Alexei Jawlensky, pictured left, could be used on a platform like Seesaw for students to record their description and thoughts about the artwork, which can be used to assess the achievement standard at Level F in the Victorian Curriculum: “Students identify and describe the subject matter and ideas in artworks they make and view.”

After discussing placement of features on a face, students used a mirror to draw their head and shoulders and traced over with a thick permanent marker.

Students used chalk pastels on the side edge to gently lay down colour to then blend with fingertips for the background (of course there are always some who get excited and use their whole hand or even both!) They used water soluble pastels for the face and body. Water is brushed is over the pastel areas to smooth out the colour, giving it a painterly effect.

For students at this age, they can reflect on their artwork by sharing with others or describing their piece on a platform like Seesaw.

Prep/ Foundation Victorian Curriculum Lesson Plan with learning intentions, success criteria, step by step materials and techniques.

2 thoughts on “Expressionism Portraits: Alexei Jawlensky inspired- Grade Prep art lesson

  1. Thanks Liz! My teaching art career over 30 years, and I also always explain/refer according to various artists and the way they used colour, texture etc. By the time they leave primary school they have a good knowledge of the principles of art, but also of the many artist and history of art to back them on their way not only to high school., but general comprehension.


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