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Self-Portraits…with a twist

After teaching art for four years, and being a creative person, I’m always trying to come up with some new twists on some perennial favorites. The first grade self portrait is one such project. I wanted the kids to not only focus on what they look like but to image themselves in the future. To answer the question: What do you want to be when you grow up?
We brainstormed lots of ideas and talked about how they could draw a magician, a singer, or a fisherman. The kids quickly figured out one or two things they would need to put in the painting so one could quickly tell what the picture was supposed to be.

Here are the steps.

  1. With a pencil, trace oval template onto white 12 x 18 paper. Tip: I always have the kids trace a template that I pre-made. This way you can be sure that the head shape will the right size and eliminate much frustration.
  2. Draw eyes, mouth, nose, hair and hats, helmets or head decoration.
  3. In a muffin type palette, mix 2-3 shades of skin tones, black, brown, yellow, blue and green paint. Have the kids paint their skin first, painting right over the nose but leaving the eyes and mouth. Next paint the hair and then, after the skin paint has dried slightly, paint the eyes and mouth.
  4. Have the kids paint any hats, helmets or head accessories.
  5. If you are doing this in two classes, this is a good place to take a break. Now that the face and hair are dry, have the kids draw the background. Put out a new palette of paint to include colors for backgrounds. Black, red, blue, green, orange, brown.
  6. When everything is dry, use a Sharpie or any black marker to trace over all the details. This is a key step. The kids can add pupils to their eyes and details can be enhanced in the background. Every line must be traced.
  7. Final step, and the most fun, add sequins, glitter, buttons, shiny paper to bring the whole painting to life.
For more detailed photo tutorials, templates, and handouts for this and more portrait lessons, check out the Deep Space Sparkle “Fun with Portraits”PDF booklet. 
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    6 Comments

  1. Love this new blog. I’ve already bookmarked it. You are a wonder, Miss Patty.

    Maggie

    Maggie

    November 4, 2007

  2. Spectacular Patty! Thanks for doing this. Gratefully… Sigi and Emma

    Anonymous

    November 13, 2007

  3. I did this lesson with my sons first grade class the pictures turned out wonderful. Thanks for the idea!!

    Laurel

    February 21, 2010

  4. The book When I Grow Up written by Al Yankovic and illustrated by Wes Hargis is a perfect read aloud for this project.

    Natalie Duffy

    August 29, 2011

    • Great! Love getting book recs!

      Patty

      August 29, 2011

  5. I am so thankful for this wonderful website.

    Andrea

    September 7, 2011

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