Self Portraits – How to Use Words in Self Portraits

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Journalling with Descriptive Words...

Hi everyone – I hope you had fun with your hand prints and hand portraits yesterday? 

Today, we are going to use words and pictures to create self portraits… to start with we are going to a little bit of work in our journals or sketchbooks. 

When we are making pictures of anything, its important to get a good understanding of the subject, but this is especially important with self portraits. We are going to do some journalling work to develop a good understanding of ourselves, and find some really good adjectives that describe all the parts of our characteristics. 

journal exercise

Parent Note: If your children are young, don’t worry, you can do this together – you might want to help them find and write new words – see it as a great opportunity for a literacy lesson too! Use simple things to start with like, “What colour are your eyes? Let’s find the words ‘blue’ and ‘eyes’, and then something that colour too!” Then you could build up to questions like, “What is your favourite thing to do/eat/play with?”, or model the exercise by saying things like, “I think I am kind and funny. What are two things you think about me? Now what about two things about you?” 

Building the conversation slowly will help children to focus on themselves and reflect on their own personalities, which can be challenging as its quite an abstract concept for young children. 

You will need:

  • journal, sketchbook or a few pieces of paper 
  • pens or pencils 
  • coloured paper (optional)
  • magazines and newspapers (optional)
  • scissors 
  • glue or tape 

Write or find quite a few words that describe you… If you are writing, use different coloured pens and paper.

When you have enough words, cut out wide strips of some colours, patterns or backgrounds that you like. 

Next, write the words “I Am” in the centre of your page, then begin sticking your strips in like a sunshine… then stick your words on your background rays, until you have created a burst of YOU! I bet you have made a beautiful page… This will be your starting point for your self portrait this afternoon! You could make a couple more if you enjoyed doing it… 

Artist Inspiration...

I recently wrote an article about Black Artists to Inspire Kids, in this post I looked at two artists that use text in their portrait work; Wadsworth Jarrell and Carolyn Mims Lawrence. Both artists made work that inspired young people, and expressed hope and positivity. So, I think that are perfect artists to look at whilst we explore how to include text in our own self portraits. It is easy to be critical of ourselves, or feel shy about saying all the positive things about ourselves, but in art we should feel free and confident to do just that, and we can use artists like Jarrell and Lawrence to inspire us… 

Im going to leave some images of their work here, but if you want to read more about them, feel free to hop over to my post, as mentioned above. There are ideas to try too.   

Carolyn Mims

Lunchtime viewing

This little Morph animation is so sweet, and ironically has absolutely no words in it at all! But, who doesn’t love Morph, right?

BONUS ACTIVITY – Can you make yourself as a morph figure? You just need a little clay or dough… 

For older children, download a Stop Motion app, and see if you could make a mini short animation using your characters…. 

See you after lunch for a creative self portrait project… 

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Katherine is a mixed media artist, art teacher, writer, designer, photographer – and mum of 2 – who works and lives in North Devon, nestled in the woods on a little smallholding. She has a BA in Performance Studies, an MA in Fine Art, and an MFA in photography, alongside a background in early years childhood and special education. Katherine uses her artistic talents, passion for helping people, and unique creativity to create articles, courses and classes that promote creativity, artistic skills, self expression and well-being. She believes in the power of the creative arts and how engaging with them can improve so many aspects of life.
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