Martin Luther King Jr. portrait art lesson for kids using watercolor paints

Martin Luther King Jr. Portrait Art Project

Few figures in American history inspire hope in the human spirit quite like civil rights activist, Martin Luther King Jr. His iconic I Have a Dream speech outlined his hopes for the future of the country where equality, community and peach reign supreme. On the third Monday in January, we celebrate King’s birth and legacy and what better way to honor him and guide your students towards thinking on a more global scale than to have your students create a portrait of Marin Luther King Jr., surrounded by their own dreams for society.

Watch the full video tutorial here…

Click the yellow box below to DOWNLOAD the Marin Luther King Jr. Drawing Guide below as well as our other January freebie lessons coming out this month…

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

– 12″ x 18″ white sulphite paper

– Black waterproof marker

– Pan watercolors

– Medium round paintbrush

DRAWING MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.

Start off by drawing a large oval in the center of your white sulphite paper using a waterproof marker.

Next, add ears halfway down the outside of the oval. Draw a hair line from the center of the ears that goes up, flattens out a bit in the middle, then goes back down toward the center of the other ear.

Draw a nose in line with the bottom of the ears near the center of the face. To draw the nose, start with a “U” shape for the center, then a “C” shape on the left of the “U” and a backward “C” shape on the right side. Add two lines for the sides of the nose.

Add two eyes in line with the top of the ears, then thick eyebrows on top.

Draw a mouth halfway between the bottom of the nose and the chin. Add a mustache on top and two curved lines for cheekbones.

Martin Luther King Jr. portrait art lesson project for kids

Add two long, curved lines for shoulders that extend to the bottom of the page. Draw two triangles for the collar of the shirt from the chin. For the knot of the tie, connect the shirt collars with a curved line, then add two lines that go down to the bottom of the paper for the tie.

*As an alternate twist, students could draw a self portrait.

CREATING THE BACKGROUND

Martin Luther King Jr. portrait art lesson project for kids

Use the waterproof marker to divide the background into several sections with curved lines. Some can go horizontally, some vertically and some diagonally.

To add contrast, make the lines thicker by drawing a second line parallel to the first, then fill in the space in-between with the marker.

Martin Luther King Jr. portrait art lesson project for kids

Add the phrase: “I have a dream…” in one section. Select 3-4 other sections and add some of your dreams. These could be personal dreams and goals or loftier goals for society as a whole.

Martin Luther King Jr. portrait art lesson project for kids

You could take a few moments to brainstorm some words to use with your students before they begin this step, if you wish.

Use pan watercolor to paint in the portrait and the background.

Martin Luther King Jr. portrait art lesson project for kids

Click the button below to DOWNLOAD the January Freebie Pack. Add your name and email and we’ll send it to you!

Click here to subscribe

Make sure to post your students art in our weekly posts inside the free Dazzler Facebook Community.

Martin Luther King Jr. portrait art lesson project for kids

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  • John Mauro

    I have been following your site for years and love the projects you do. I am always looking for new ideas for my classroom and you have given me several great lessons.
    Thank you!

  • Ronace Zielinski-Hogan

    Thank you very much Dr. King’s free art lesson. Love everything I have purchased from you! Excellent lessons and easy to follow! Young artists love them! Your lessons make valuable
    connections across the curriculum. Looking forward to joining your Sparkler Club!

  • Aleena Sohail

    Love this! Please send?

    • Patty

      Happy to! Just scroll up and click the box that says January Freebie Pack > click yellow button > enter your name and email and we’ll send it to you 🙂
      Enjoy!

  • Holly M Magcalas

    LOVE this!! Can’t wait to use it with my kiddos!!

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