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Make a self-portrait

How you can help at home: Making a self-portrait is an engaging art project for your child.

By Miriam Myers , GreatSchools Staff

In this activity your child uses a mirror to take a close look at the placement and shapes of her facial features.

What You'll Need

  • Paper. You might consider using graph paper to help your child more easily align the features.
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Mirror

Here's How to Do It

Discuss what a self-portrait is. Explain to your child that she is going to draw a self-portrait with the help of a mirror. Hold up the mirror and ask your child questions about what she sees. Ask: What is the shape of your face? Discuss how it is oval or egg shaped. Then have her draw her face on the piece of paper, leaving room on the bottom of the page for the neck and shoulders.

Looking again at the mirror, have her look at her eyes and look at where they are located. Discuss the color and shape of her eyes (almond-shaped, for example). Then have her draw them.

Have your child examine where her nose is in relation to the eyes and mouth, and how the ears start at eye level and extend below nose level. Have her draw the nose, mouth and ears. Discuss what else she can add to the face such as eyebrows, hair and any particular markings like a dimple or birth mark. Then below the face have her draw the neck and shoulders. She can then draw a background to the portrait.

Extension: Online, at a museum or in an art book, explore different artists' self-portraits. Discuss if they are realistic or abstract.

Comments from readers

"If that doesn't work, you could take a picture of your child and print it out. Let them draw what they see in the picture. Every detail is important it helps potray the many fetures of the body"
"I am going to try this making one change. I am going to get a clear laminate to tape to the mirror. On the laminate I will put the same grid marks on that are on my paper. When he looks in the mirror we will mark a line for eyebrows and then he can line up his face again with the grid. This may help with the proprtions. Let me know if it works for others."
"Thank-you so much my child has learned alot don't stop your bissnes"
"thank you, this self portrait will help us study facial cues with my autistic child.We study other faces from books and cut outs. Now we will draw his face when he is (happy,sad ex.....) loretta"
"This is a great snow day idea! Thanks."