This is a project for 1st or 2nd Grade (6-8 years olds). However, you can simplify it for 5 year olds if you use a template of the head.
The project was inspired by DeepSpaceSparkle tempera portraits.
Materials: large paper, oil pastel (or crayons), thick brushes, acrylic, tempera 0r gouache paints (make sure you have skin tone color)
Project takes about 60 minutes (I advice to make two 30-minutes sessions)
First, explain kids that a portrait is a picture of a person. Let kids look at each other. Ask kids what shape is our head? Is the left side of the face same as right side? Explain what is symmetry. Point that our eyes are same size and are located symmetrically with an imaginary middle line. Eyebrows are same symmetrical about the middle. The same applies to ears. Nose and lips are on an imaginary middle line.
Let kids decide whom they are going to draw (themselves, mom, dad, best friend). Tell them that they will draw a shoulder-length portrait so there is no need to draw hands, body and legs.
- place the paper vertically
- begin with a head shape. Draw a big egg-like oval. Younger kids (5 year olds) can trace a template.
- make a neck and shoulders
- draw guiding lines. Separate the face into two equal parts with a vertical line. Then draw a horizontal line right in the middle of the head. Tell kids to press on a pencil very lightly because thick lines will be hard to erase. Explain that the horizontal line will help to position eyes. The vertical line will help to position nose and mouth. Help younger kids to draw guiding lines (older can do it by themselves)
- name the parts of an eye. Tell kids that an eye has a shape of a fish or a leaf. The top part of an eye is like a wide rainbow and the bottom part is like a smile.
- draw the first eye in the middle of the left half of the horizontal guiding line. Don’t draw eyelashes, it will be done in oil pastels at the very end.
- draw the second eye on the right side positioning it in the middle of the right part of the horizontal guiding line.
- draw a mouth and a nose (like a hook or a letter “J”) positioning it along the vertical guiding line.
- add eyebrows
- draw hair. If a person has bangs – draw it right over the eyebrows. Otherwise, just draw a rainbow-like line for the line where hair start to grow.
- add ears (if they are seen). Ears should be placed along the horizontal guiding line.
- erase the guiding lines
- begin painting with skin color. Tell kids to paint all of the face, the neck and ears covering lips, eyebrows and the nose BUT leave white paper for eyes
- paint hair and a shirt
This is where you can finish the first session.
Second session includes facial parts in oil pastel and painting background:
- color the eyes’ irises and lips
- outline everything with an oil pastel (or a crayon) using the color closest to the hair. Draw eyelashes and pupils.
- add cheeks: paint the cheeks with pink oil pastel and smudge it with a finger.
- add patterns to the shirt. You can make buttons, necklaces, earrings or hair pieces.
- paint the background. We used solid color, but it might look very nice with multicolored background as well.
Here are my students working hard:
And here are the beautiful portraits: