Capital City Academy / Visual Literacy activities / Yemisi Blake

Handy Portraits

Exploring ways of making portraits with out focusing on the face.

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Materials needed:

  • Hand prompt sheet (PDF)
  • Cameras



Print out multiple copies of the hand prompt sheet.



a) Students work in pairs or small groups.

They are asked to:

  • Think about someone they are close to, a friend or family member, and act out what they do with their hands. e.g. sister pointing for a younger brother to fetch something, parent kneading dough to make bread.
  • Students share these actions with the group
  • Facilitator starts a discussion about how much we can gather about a person’s personality from the way they move their hands.

b) Pairs or groups are given a camera.

  • Each pair or group is given a hand prompt sheet and tasked with creating 3-5 hand portraits taking inspiration from the sheet.
    • They can respond to words, phrases or the images.
  • Once a group have a few images from the prompt sheet, they are encouraged to come up with their own ideas.
    • choosing new words or phrases, or using the actions from people they mentioned earlier.
  • The session ends with each group sharing their portraits with another group or to the whole class.




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