There’s more than one way to make a portrait! Explore representing others in different art forms and deepen and learn about your relationships with others!
What you’ll need: One other person, paper, coloured pens or pencils, instruments (or home-made ‘found’ instruments like pots and pans), space to move around.
What’s it for?
This activity will help you to realise how you perceive others, and how you are perceived by others. It will allow you to bond with your partner and also have a good, fun time!
Notice how you’re feeling right now. Close your eyes and notice what’s going on inside your mind and body.
How are you feeling?
What are you thinking?
How does your body feel?
We’re going to make portraits of each other using different art forms.
It is really important that you have a partner for this activity who you really trust and who will take it seriously (while still having fun!).
Sit opposite your partner with a piece of paper and a pencil. It’s probably a good idea to do this sitting opposite each other at a table.
The idea is to draw a portrait of your partner without looking at what you’re drawing and also NOT taking your pencil off the page (so it will be one continuous line). Instead, look very closely at your partner and try to draw the shape and features just intuitively!
When you’ve finished share your picture with your partner. It’s likely that the picture is very wonky, but that’s part of the fun!
What elements of the picture are most alike or most different from your partner?
Do you or your partner like or dislike the portrait? Why?
Gather around you a selection of different things to make music with. This could be musical instruments, or objects that can be used like instruments such as pots and pans to bang, cups and glasses to tap with a pencil, metal coat hangers to clang together, etc.
Thinking carefully about what your partner is like, try to create a musical portrait of them.
If this feels hard, think about the way that they tend to act: Are they a very fast or slow person? Do they walk heavily or lightly? Do they talk softly or loudly? Etc. Play some music in that way.
Does your partner recognise themselves in your musical portrait? What would they have added or taken away? Did they like or dislike their portrait?
Then let your partner make a musical portrait of you and discuss afterwards.
Now experiment making a musical portrait of your relationship and play the instruments / objects together!
Drama & Dance
Thinking really carefully about your partner and their positive qualities (for example, they might be helpful, love animals, kind, friendly, studious, dynamic, exciting, etc.) try to find some movements that reflect something about them WITHOUT using words or sounds.
Try not to be too literal. Can you represent your friend’s kindness in a gesture? What movement would suggest how exciting they are to be with?
Can you string some of your movements together to form a more complete portrait?
Does your partner recognise themselves in your movement portrait? Did they like or dislike their portrait?
Now let your partner make a movement portrait of you and discuss afterwards.
Allow you and your partner to make a movement portrait of your relationship together at the same time.
First, ask your partner what their favourite thing is. It might be something like a games console, their pet cat, bike, dinosaurs, ballet, or pizza!
Imagine your partner shares characteristics with their favourite thing! Write a description of your partner’s favourite thing as if it was describing them!
For example, if your partner is a very fast runner, likes bright clothes and being the centre of attention, and is very friendly and they chose their bike as their favourite thing, you might write something like: This special bike can travel extremely fast, it’s brightly coloured and always noticed everywhere it goes. It has a shiny bell that always draws attention to itself, and a comfortable seat which always welcomes all riders!
Does your partner recognise themselves in the description of their favourite thing?
The more unusual the favourite thing is, the more creative you will have to be in your description and metaphors!
Extra Activity: Try to combine different art forms to make a different kind of ‘portrait’. How about drawing a picture of your friend as their favourite thing, for example, or making some artwork or creative writing around the musical portrait?
When you’ve finished, spend a moment reflecting on the activity and ask yourself the following questions:
Did you learn anything new about yourself or your partner while you did this activity?
How did it feel to see yourself reflected back through these different art forms?
How did it feel to reflect aspects of your partner back to them through the art forms?
Do you feel closer to your partner after doing this activity?
This activity helps you to explore using different creative methods how we perceive others, and how they perceive us. It can also help to strengthen your relationship with your partner. It helps you to think cross-modally and how to express yourself through creative metaphor.
Take a moment to notice how you are feeling at the end of this activity. Did you discover anything surprising? What can you take away to make you feel better about yourself from this activity?
If you would like to, share something about your experience with this activity with someone you live with! Ask the person who looks after you to send us an email if you have any questions or comments about the activity, or would like to send us any pictures (firstname.lastname@example.org). Don't forget to subscribe for more fun CAT activities!
Created by Ian Grundy © March 2021
Creative Arts Used: Art, Drama, Dance, Music, Creative Writing
Psychological Areas Explored: Self-Exploration, Relationships, Communication
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These activities could be done by children of all ages, but some may need the support of their parent or carer to read the instructions or complete the activity safely.
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