5th Grade Self-Portraits

This is one of my favorite projects to do with 5th Grade. A lot of hard work goes into these. We learn about proportion on day 1 and create a realistic looking human portrait. We discuss cartooning vs. realism.

On day 2 we learn about contour line. We learn about and struggle with creating a “blind contour line” portrait. Students use mirrors to study self, but may not: look at the paper, erase, let the pencil leave the paper. It is very challenging, but teaches them how to REALLY look, and not rely on what they think they know.

On day 3 we look at a variety of self portraits by famous artists (and some of my own from way back!). We discuss body language, expression, props, color. We use both our knowledge of proportion and observational drawing to compose our final drawing on large black paper. We trace over the drawing with white glue and let dry

Finally it’s time to apply color! We learn about pastel techniques and give thought to how we will use color to create expression.

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