This class made my heart absolutely sing! There is something so beautiful about watching young children create awareness about their 'self.' I didn't want to get hung up on doing realistic portraits, as this would not have been age appropriate. Instead, I wanted kids to think about, explore, and play with the unique qualities that make them who they are.
Our first project explored who we are within our immediate community. Preschool drawings of families have to be one of my favorite things. I love how some people are big and others are very small and have no arms. I love how the pictures don't really match reality but represent a young person's worldview. I wanted to capture these whimsical drawings in a way that could be proudly displayed.
We started the background of this project on Day One of the workshop, using an open-ended process I've done many times before. Mini makers were given small canvases, squares of bleeding tissue paper, water, and brushes. When Mini Makers placed the tissue paper on their canvas and brushed over it with water, the color would bleed and transfer onto the canvas. At this point, we put the canvases aside to dry.
On Day Two, Mini Makers used sharpies on top of the dry canvas to draw their families. We talked about how families can look very different from each other. We read 'The Family Book' by Todd Parr to launch this discussion.
After the family pictures were drawn, I put out sequins for the kids to add a little pizzaz to their portraits.
Our second project explored our inside-self. On Day One, I gave the kids paper and crayons and asked them to fill their paper with shapes and colors of their imagination. If I asked an adult to do this, they would definitely over think it. But Mini Makers took the prompt and immediately got to work.
While Mini Makers were working with the crayons, I put the adults to work interviewing their kiddo. Kids were asked a variety of questions about their interests and opinions.
Before kids left on Day One, I made sure to snap a few pictures of each kid on their way out the door.
On Day Two, I had all these components prepared and ready to be assembled. Mini Makers used their crayon drawing of their imagination as the background. They then made decisions about where to place their photo and the answers to their interview questions. Put together, it made a fun little poem about who they are.
Shadow Box Self Portraits
Our third project engaged Mini Makers to examine the details that make up their faces. We started with a template of a head and shoulders. I put out paint in a variety of skin colors and asked the kids to explore and find the shade that worked for them. I encouraged them to actually put some of the paint on their skin to compare. When they were satisfied with the paint color, they painted the template. We put these aside to dry.
On this same day, Mini Makers also painted a background for their self-portrait using any color that appealed to them.
On Day Two, Mini Makers glued their naked person onto their dry background. Using a variety of collage materials, they got creative with how to build facial features, add clothes, and represent hair.
Some of the kids asked if they could use colors that were different from their own hair or eyes. I encouraged them to create themselves in anyway they pleased. Artists often use self-portraits as a way of expressing various aspects of themselves and their identities beyond the surface of their physical appearance.
Once self-portraits were complete, it was time to add the portrait to a shadow box. I had prepared the shadow boxes ahead of time, using cereal boxes and a white paint primer. I thought the portraits looked very polished with the crisp white of the shadow box. But for additional self-expression, I gave early finishers the option of decorating the box with quick-drying tempera paint sticks.
These self-portraits were so beautiful and a great snap-shot of a moment in time.