Self Portraits – How to Make Hand Portraits

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6 Ways to Make Self-Portraits with Hands

This afternoon, we will be continuing on with our exploration of hands, and we will be creating a self portrait using your hands as the main focus. There are many different ways to do this, and its the perfect activity to get really creative and expressive! 

Man Ray - Hands Painted
Hand Painting - Man Ray

So I am going to give you some ideas and inspiration, and the rest is up to you! Think about some of the techniques and artists you have already learned about, or try something totally new! 

Aboriginal Inspired Dot Art

If you enjoyed the Tingatinga Art last week, you might enjoy having a go at these aboriginal inspired hand portraits? These are perfect for any age, and gives you a chance to express yourself through pattern and colours! Click here for some more examples from the Love of Art.

Fill Your Hands

I saw this idea on Michelle Morgan Art, where the idea is to fill your left hand with important things from your past, and your right hand with your hopes and goals… You could totally do this – its a great therapeutic activity for older children and adults. You can also simplify this by simply filling your hand shape with all the things that you love, or that are important to you. 

Here is another beautiful version to inspire you – I love how it is sitting over a frame… 

Colour Your Hand

If you don’t know where to start, try having a go at this colouring sheet to get you started… click the image to get a printable version. 

You don’t just have to colour it in, you could add words, patterns. or anything else… like this from Erica Leigh

Words and Patterns

words and patterns

This is probably an idea for older children and adults – the idea is to write about yourself – this could be a list, a poem, description… and use patterns to decorate your hand in a way that expresses you. 

So start with drawing around your hand, then add a box behind the hand shape for your writing, just like the picture above. You could use water colours or coloured pencils to add colour to your backgrounds and border. Then, start decorating with your words and patterns… think about the colours that you love or that represent your personality. What kind of patterns, shapes or doodles symbolise you? Are you a soft and round person, or are you flowery or exuberant? Are you more zigzags and straight lines? 

Decorate Your Hand

How about actually decorating your hand and photographing it? (Make sure you have your parent’s permission). You could use face paints or henna, or just pens… decorate your hand with words, patterns, shapes or anything else. When you’re done, take a photograph. Have fun and be creative! 

Hand Portrait Photography

If you like photography, you could try experimenting with some different ways of photographing hands to make portraits – perhaps you could make a family portrait using all the hands of your family? Hands can say a lot about a person… what can you discover with your camera? What do your hands say about you? 


Whatever you make this afternoon, have lots of fun, and do share what you make with us! 

A Little Light Reading

Like I said, hands can say a lot about a person, and hands provide so much… this poem by Michael Rosen 

Journal Prompts

  • You could use any of the hand portrait ideas in your journal…
  • Can you fill your page with lots of small hands and decorate them all? 
  • Write about all the things your hands do every day… 
  • Think about the poem above and write about someone else’s hands – what do they give you? Kindness, food, care, bravery, gifts, love… 
  • Draw around your hand and write 5 things you love about yourself inside 
  • Or draw or write things you are grateful for in and around your hands
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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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