Every year, no matter what grade I teach, I get my students to do a Self-Portrait in the first week of school. This gives me the opportunity to lay art expectations and rules down early in the year and they also make a great display for the Parent Teacher nights that are usually the following week.

This particular Self Portrait is quite simple and although I say it is for Early Primary, really, any grade good give it a go. It explores the mixing of primary colours as well as focusing on choosing colours that make pictures more realistic – students are required to observe themselves (in particular their skin tone) and mix colours or choose a colour that best matches their skin tone. A great way to lead into conversations about appreciating one another’s differences.

I highly recommend doing this art activity alongside Mem Fox’s book Whoever You Are.

Whoever You Are | Mem Fox

Here is what you will need:
– acrylic/washable paints (acrylic paints give a richer, bolder colour but are not as easy to wash out of clothes) – black, yellow, white, brown (in various shades), skin colour, tan
– A3 cartridge paper (this paper is thicker that the A3 paper you put through your printer – using cartridge paper will help avoid the paper tearing in case of over painting)
– Edicol dyes (primary colours only)
– Spray bottles of some sort
– Pegs
– Paintbrushes/Foam brushes
– Pool noodle cut into pieces

And here is how to create it with your class this year:
1. Allow your students to spray their piece of paper with the spray bottles filled with edicol dyes. Encourage your students to use a variety of the colours provided. What do they observe? What colours are being made as they mix together?

2. After your student’s spray paintings have dried, provide them with a variety of different skin tone paint colours (also include some black and white so students can mix the colours to suit their needs).

3. Ask your students to observe their skin tone and discuss the colours they will need to make their skin tone. Also discuss the impact of adding white and black to the colours provided (white lightens, black darkens). Allow your students to mix the colours until they are happy they have produced a colour similar to their skin tone. Students can then dip the pool noodle piece into their unique paint colour and print two circles one underneath the other to create a head and body.

4. From the body of their pool noodle print, use paint brushes or foam brushes to paint on arms and legs.

5. Allow your students to add hair and facial features to their portrait to complete their self-portrait.

And there you have a pool noodle self-portrait! Easy hey?! Why don’t you try doing a pool noodle family?

Pool Noodle Family

Like this idea? If you liked this idea you might like more of these ideas in our Self Portrait Art Unit.

Happy Back To School Everyone!!