The Person behind the Portrait

An Integrated Arts Lesson: Point of View and Portraits

Mind Reader
Students, you will be writing about the person in the picture as if you can read their mind and tell exactly what they are thinking. Specifically, you will write about how they see themselves and how they feel about the way others see them.

•    Pick one of your “self-portraits.”
•    You will be writing about the image, not necessarily about yourself.

Questions to answer when writing:
•    What does the person in the picture see when they look in the mirror? Or what do they think of themselves when walking down the street? In the halls at school? When they watch TV?
•    What do they tell themselves in the morning/night?
•    What do they try to block out?
•    What are they tired of? (you can make a list, but say why at least three times)
•    What do people say about them? What do they think is true? What do they think is false?

Some starters:
•    When she/he looks in the mirror…
•    She/he sees…
•    She/he tells herself/himself…
•    She/he tries not to think about…
•    They are tired of…
•    People say that she/he is…



She looks at herself sideways, a blurry vision and never straight on. When she gets ready in the morning she thinks about what they’ll say and at night she thinks about what they must have been thinking that day. Sometimes she thinks that it’s all just not worth it, but gets up anyway. She acts like she doesn’t care what people say, but sometimes it gets through and that’s when it’s the worst. She squints close to the mirror and picks at everything that isn’t enough. There are times when she thinks she’s pretty enough and other times she thinks about what “pretty enough” means, like not so flat a nose or so wide eyes or not so big hair. There’s nothing blonde about me, she thinks. I’m tired of being tired. She’s tired of condos and expensive cars and cell phone bills and sick parents and lies and everything else that costs something, everything that reminds her of money. She tries not to think about her neighbors or her brother or loss.

To begin, select a “self-portrait” from The Person behind the Portrait or from the Chuck Close Daguerreotypes.  You will write from the point of view of the character in the portrait. Refer to the questions to answer and starters above to guide you in your writing.