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Activity Idea: Portrait of Emy (Quick Tip)

Use the following strategies with Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s Portrait of Emy

  • Some viewers think that Emy shows two different moods. They think the left side of her face looks somber, and the right is happier. What aspects of her features do you think give people this impression? Try out different facial expressions in a mirror—smiling, grimacing etc. Choose a few of these expressions and present them to a partner. Have the partner guess which emotions you are conveying. As a class, discuss your experiences reading each others’ expressions. How much does our body communicate about our emotions? How easy is it for us to hide our feelings? Share stories about a time when your expression or body language gave away your secret.
  • Pair students with a friend and have them choose a few colors to represent that person. Have them draw their friend using those colors. Share the drawings as a class and discuss the colors the students selected. Discuss the words authors use to show how they feel about a character. Use Kevin Henkes’ Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse to begin the conversation.
  • Some viewers think that Emy’s face looks like a mask. Which aspects of the painting do you think give people this impression? Using the masklike appearance of Emy as inspiration, create a mask that reveals aspects of your personality. Carefully consider the colors and details that communicate something about you. Put on your mask and have a partner write a brief description of you based on what he or she sees in the mask.
  • Compare Emy to Lady Pepperrell [link]. How are these women painted differently? How does the way they are painted affect our impression of them? Write a dialogue between them using visual clues in the paintings to help you determine their personalities and what they might say to each other.
  • Portrait of Emy shows an artist’s love for his wife. Find examples of ways poets and other authors express their love in writing. Share these examples with the class. Discuss the authors’ choices of words and formats. Select a format (written or painted) to share your feelings for someone special in your life.