Self Portraits

Drawing self portraits was an incredible experience. You could almost see light bulbs turning on. The room was bright with energy and creativity. It was great to observe students who are usually drawn to sensory play push themselves with control and focus and follow a detailed lesson filled with instruction. While most children achieved success and a finished project, at least one out of 7 kids hit a stumbling block of frustration striving for perfection or having the materials not work in the way they anticipated.
Most students responded positively to my longer than usual demonstration of how to draw a face. I was even able to hold my toddler’s attention as I showed a simple circle smiley face. I stressed several times that they could draw anything, that it didn’t have to be a face. Especially for my three and under students, since an appropriate place developmentally would be simple mark making, line, and spirals.
Studio Sprout is a place where kids can be themselves and have fun! I loved turning around and seeing half my class with templates on their heads. What a great fit! I offered templates for the head. This was a fun followup to a lesson we did a few weeks back with stencils.
Teaching a such guided lesson plan with students under the age of 5 who are not used to classroom etiquette is a great social experiment and challenge as a teacher. I noticed the more animated I taught the longer the attention span of the class.  I learned quickly not to put any art supplies in front of the kids that I didn’t want them to touch. So I saved the oil pastels and paper until it was time to draw.
I passed the mirrors out first so that we could digest the parts of the face as a group, assigning parts and shapes to our main features: shape of head (oval or circle), two eyes (dots with footballs around them, one nose (shaped like a small cup), one mouth (shaped like a bowl).
If students were handling the mirrors gently I left them on the table for the duration of the drawing process. It was fascintating to see students pick up the mirrors and reflect on their features as they drew their face.
During my research for teaching face drawing and portraits to children I cam across this wonderful chart for drawing development in children: http://www.learningdesign.com/Portfolio/DrawDev/kiddrawing.html
I challenged students five years and older to completely shade in their paper with oil pastel.  This takes focus and attention.


Materials used in this project:

  • oil pastels
  • liquid watercolor
  • heavy weight card stock or construction paper
  • glue sticks & construction paper(for backing when the art is dry)


Finished portrait. Oil Pastel and Water Color Resist.


In this class of mixed 2-4 year olds I taught to the oldest most advanced student. The younger ones naturally look over to learn from their siblings and peers.


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