Exploring Feelings through Making Self Portraits

Home / YIA Programs / Exploring Feelings through Making Self Portraits

Creating self-portraits is a challenging – but important – way to explore feelings and emotions.
At Laurel Dell Elementary School in San Rafael, first graders started their self portrait journey by looking in the mirror and making different faces. In the first week, they drew five expressions: happy, sad, angry, surprised and scared. We made the faces together, then individually while looking in the mirror.
It was important to give students time to really look at themselves without the distraction of pencils and paper on the table. We felt the bones in our cheeks and noses and noticed details like eyebrows and hair. How is my hair different from yours? Students labeled each face they drew, practicing skills they use in academic subjects making diagrams.
The next week, we drew our own faces in pencil, using the whole page. Then we used black Sharpies on the best lines and added colored pencils. It was a great project to do before moving to our newly rebuilt old school around the corner after the holiday break.
This project was the end of a 12-week residency with Mentor Artist Cathy Bowman exploring how to make and keep friends and social-emotional skills. Self portraits by kindergarten and first graders will be on display at the YIA Gallery on April 10 as part of the annual Walker Rezaian Creative HeArts exhibition, now in its sixth year. The show celebrates the life of 5-year-old Walker Rezaian and his love of the arts and is part of a program funded by the Rezaian family.

Showing 4 comments
  • Liza

    Very powerful, multi-dimensional learning and teaching! Very cool!!

    • YIAStaff

      Thank you for your kind words, Liza. I love this lesson exactly for that reason. It’s a joy to teach it!

  • Rita Child

    You are amazing Cathy❣️ Love your approach to self portraits via feelings.
    I’m so proud of you as a teacher and artist.
    Love, Rita

    • YIAStaff

      Thank you so much! I learn so much from the students when I teach this project.

Leave a Comment