How to Draw A Self-Portrait - An Art Lesson Plan for Kids

How to Draw A Self-Portrait - An Art Lesson Plan for Kids


Objective:  In this self-portrait art lesson, featuring World Color colored pencils, teaches students celebrate diversity and self expression by creating an art collage inspired by the book The Skin You Live In, by Michael Tyler.

Grade level: 2nd - 4th
Time required: 2 - 45 min class periods

by Michael Tyler, illustrated by David Lee Csicsko
The Skin You Live In is a delightfully rhyming picture book celebrating diversity, and encouraging self-esteem in it’s readers by playfully exploring the concept of skin color, and the ways in which all children are unique yet similar.

In this lesson plan, students create a lively self-portrait in cut paper collage inspired by Csicsko’s quirky, cheerful art, and choose their own unique skin toned pencil to accurately reflect the color of their skin.

Faber-Castell World Colors - Skin Toned Colored Pencils
Faber-Castell Colored Construction Paper

National Core Art Standards—Visual
Anchor Standard #1: Generate and conceptualize artistic ideas and work
Anchor Standard #3: Refine and complete artistic work
Anchor Standard #5: Develop and refine artistic techniques and work for
Anchor Standard #8: Interpret intent and meaning in artistic work
Anchor Standard #10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal
experiences to make art

Vocabulary: self-portrait, diversity, compose, stylize, complimentary, contrast, elements, assemble, highlight

1. Brainstorm with your students about the many fun and imaginative ways there are to express their personal interests, favorite occasions and activities in their self-portraits. Consider clothing, accessories, and weather (umbrellas or snow could be fun!) Children will be sure to surprise you with interesting and unexpected ideas!
Have students do a loose sketch of their idea on a piece of copy paper to use as their guide.

Self Portrait Art Lesson Plan
2. Next, have students carefully choose their colored papers based on the ideas in their sketch, including a 9 x 12 piece of background color that will complement the other color choices in their art. Show how to consider complimentary colors and contrast- dark against light. Offer copy paper to use for the crisp
whites of eyes and other details.

Have students chose the skin toned pencil color that they think most closely matches their own skin.
Self Portrait Lesson Plan
3. Begin the art by demonstrating how to break down the basic elements of their portrait into simple stylized shapes, and then cut them out of colored paper. Have them use the off-white construction paper for skin as a base at this point, (students will color it later).
Discourage too much drawing, and instead, show how to go straight to cutting their shapes from paper. This method most always results in a much more spontaneous, playful look, with imperfect shapes adding unexpected character and fun.
Self Portrait Lesson Plan - Step 3
4. Instruct students to continue to design and embellish their portraits with their own unique ideas. Encourage a clean, bold, graphic look. Next, have students color their skin with their chosen pencil, and then begin to loosely assemble the pieces of their portrait. Show them how to make eyes come alive with a white highlight, and demonstrate how to play with the final positioning of pieces to create cute and funny looks and expressions with eyes, eyebrows, crooked mouths, shoulders, etc. Glue pieces into place.

Celebrate and enjoy your student’s unique portraits, they will be full of personality and charm!
Tip: Mounting the portraits on larger black paper will make them pop, perfect for displaying in the art room or your next art show!


Artist Biography - Janis Doukakis


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