Emotion Portraits


As a creative warm-up to practice making thick, thin and expressive lines, introduce to your sixth or seventh graders in your art rotations with Emotion Portraits.

I found this idea on Flicks from one of my favorite art teachers Artsy T. Her. Here’s a link to her Emotions Portraits and you can peruse her site from there.


  • – 12″ x 18″ white paper (watercolor paper is not necessary)
  • – Waterproof black markers
  • – Watercolor paints; I put the watercolor paint in little condiment cups, then place the condiment cups in a 6-well palette.

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To begin, I asked the students to call out an emotion. I explained in brief how to draw a simple face then added the emotion focusing mostly on the eyes and mouth. Students gave more emotion examples (angry, sad, pensive, joyful, bored, frustrated, etc) and this time, I demonstrated how to use thick and thin lines to convey the emotions.

The kids really got into this part so I turned the tables and asked a few random students to come up and try drawing an emotion. The class guessed the emotion. They really loosened up. This helped break the terror of using a black marker without any practice.

Please stress that this project is just a warm-up and if they make a mistake, no biggie. Releasing pressure allows the students to be creative and mistakes or not, the portraits are truly the result of an emotion!

Colorwheel of emotions from Deep Space Sparkle

For color, I spoke a briefly how certain colors affect moods. I placed a poster on the white board for kids to come up and look at but basically, I let them have free reign of the watercolors paints and let them be expressive. In addition to the color theory chart, I place a Fred Babb poster on the board as well. His expressive use of color is by far, my favorite sample.

This is a quick project. Only two -50 minute class times. Everyone finished.

Sixth Grade Emotion Portraits:


What do you think?

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  • Rockabye Butterfly

    I like this Emotion Colour Chart! wow, with all the art classes I’ve been through, I never even knew about this! Awesome! Something I will teach my daughter about in the future….

    <3 Rockabye Butterfly


  • Ingrid

    http://www.mariaclaudiacortes.com/ “color in motion” is a very fun animated short that shows various emotions and characteristics associated with colors! Love your blog!

    • Patty

      Thanks Ingrid. I’ll check it out.

  • Beth

    Where did you get the emotion color wheel and Fred Babb picture?

    • Patty

      Hi Beth,
      I found the emotion color wheel via google and the Fred Babb art is from a book I own. Check out my other Fed Babb lessons and read through the comments. Others have tried to source Fred Babb’s work so you might find some tips.

  • marita

    Grat idea de emotion color chart!!! I will use it with my “older” students!
    yhankd for the tip

  • Niccole

    THANK YOU! This project rocks. I love the icebreaker and the color wheel of emotions. I am doing a lesson on Van Gogh, talking about his portraits. This will definitely add to the lesson I had planned. I love your website! We did your Dio De La Muerta sugar skull project last year and people LOVED them. (;

    • Patty Palmer

      Yay! Glad you like it. I was inspired by another art teacher and felt the same way when I found it.

  • Kayden

    oh my

  • Beth

    The handout link doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    • Patty

      I’m sorry to hear that Beth. Try entering your email again and then just make sure to check your junk mail. I just tried the link and it’s working for me.

  • Chelsea

    When I click the button for the handout it takes me to an error page that says “This page couldn’t be found, so let’s get you turned around!” Is there another way I can download the handout?

    • Bethany

      Hi Chelsea! This is Bethany from Team Sparkle. Thanks so much for letting us know that there is an issue with the link. We working on getting that taken care of, so please try again shortly. Thanks!

  • Doodle

    Great help, THANKYOU

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