These wide eyed self-portraits were unusual and so whimsical, and were created with just one very important drawing prompt about the shape of the face!
We are big on trying to get kids to learn a new way of drawing something they already “think” they know how to draw. By age 7 the’ve done about 40 self-portraits, in every style of every famous artist (elongated Modigliani self-portraits, Picasso inspired, Silberzweig inspired, and the list goes on… ) It’s a challenge to find new and different ways to make something that feels so “done”, new & fresh. The funny thing about this project is that it was sort of a “side project” – it was just a drawing prompt we gave the kids to work on while we were waiting on something else they were working on to dry! The fact that these came out so so stunning was a total unplanned and unexpected surprise!
The unique style of these self-portraits was elicited from the students with just one simple prompt: Instead of drawing a basic circle or oval for the shape of the face, draw a very wide oval. Then place the eyes very far apart. Fill in the rest of the features from there. Boom! That was IT! And look at how it switches up your basic self-portrait!
Another twist that resulted in a very unique look to these masterpieces was that we didn’t start with a clean piece of paper. Before starting these, kids had painted another piece of paper with a mix of black and white and gray to set aside to dry to use for a different project. We took those wet painted papers and made a “kiss print” with them, by pressing the wet painted paper up against a clean, dry piece of paper. The kiss print left traces of gray lines and weird blotches on the new paper. These portraits would look amazing on almost any “used” piece of paper – a painted paper, old book pages, a collage…
Then students painted their features with a really quick drying chalky tempera paint, let that dry for a few minutes, then worked back in on top with a fine tip permanent black pen. We love to use Pilot Precise V7 fine tip pens for this – the ink is permanent and doesn’t smudge. We also gave them a black china marker to create some stronger outlines at the end, so there was a variety in the line depth and thickness.
Sometimes it’s fun with a self-portrait project to challenge the students to draw the details of the outfit they are wearing at that exact moment.
I just love how every single one of these turned out!