Drawing self-portraits is an important art skill that fosters perception, self-identification, and the ability to transfer observations onto paper. At the same time, making a portrait of oneself can be awkward. Still, as we are talking about racism and self-identity right now, I felt that self-portraits could be a valuable artistic rework of our class discussions. To reduce the internal threshold a little bit, I decided to do expressive self-portraits. I was inspired by a lesson published on Deep Space Sparkle.
We started by preparing the background for the portraits. Everyone could choose one color and we used watercolors for the background. While the watercolors were drying, we took another sheet of paper and drew our portraits using oil pastels. I stressed that these self-portraits were expressive and did not have to be exact replications of the mirror image. In fact, we did not even use mirrors for that class. Instead, the kids could feel free to exaggerate. And this loosened the kids’ artistic inhibition. Even my younger daughter - who normally cannot finish a piece of art on her own because it does not turn out the way she wanted – was in full swing and finished her portrait without any drama. Finally, we cut out the portraits and glued them onto the prepared (dried) background. I encouraged the kids to embellish their artwork with drawings and affirmations. You can see our finished work in the picture above.
Overall, the lesson was a great success. The kids enjoyed being creative. At the same time, they could apply one-to-one our prior discussions and reflections on self-identity. If I did this lesson again, I probably would use the same paper format for background and portrait drawings (we had used regular printer paper for the portraits). What are your experiences with portrait drawing or art projects in your family? Feel free to share them in the comments section! If you would like to discuss specific projects for your family and your needs, check out the coaching I offer.