Self portraits are such a great way for students to connect to who they are in a visual way. As my students get older, they are less likely to enjoy self portraits because they are so critical of their skills. I like to “warm up” my Art 2 (sophomore) students at the beginning of the semester by giving them this non-threatening black and white cut paper self-portrait. Since we are not so terribly concerned with it looking EXACTLY like them, they can have fun with it without freaking out!
- Only black and white paper can be used.
- Portrait is from the waist up
- Portrait must be holding something that relates to a personal interest
- Border must include decoration/pattern
We start out by brainstorming different facets of the students’ personality to find out what they want to portray. Once they’ve got their ideas, I give them one piece of 9x12 white paper (for the base) and one piece of 9x12 black paper. Most of the pieces will be cut out of black paper and glued down with a glue stick.
I also pass out small strips of white for those details they want over the top of the black (i.e. hair highlights). I tell students that I highly recommend starting with the hair. Its easier to “build” it in pieces, making sure that sizes of the various body parts and details are appropriate sizes.
After students have finished the portrait, I pass out 3” wide strips of black paper for the border and strips of white to use for the border details. Students glue on the border pieces, cropping their work as needed to create a good composition. I also recommend using masking tape to tape the back of the border area so it stays on. (The weight of the border paper is hard for that little bit of glue to hold.)
These always end up filled with personality and looking vaguely like their creators. Once students start working, they realize that its easier than they thought and the final results are fun! We are then ready to tackle more challenging projects as we move into the semester.