Fingerpainting the Moon: self portrait project

 |  February 18, 2012

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up” – Pablo Picasso

I have so much going on right now in the studio and lots of paintings to share, but I wanted to write one last post on this project before too much time passes. Last month I wrote a post about the school-wide self portrait project that I was volunteering to help with at my son’s school. He goes to preschool, but the whole school goes up to 8th grade. For my son’s class, ages 3-5, we did mixed media portraits that included oil pastels, watercolors, photography, and poems.

Here is my son’s finished project:


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Noah, age 5

And here is the wall of portraits of him and his classmates:


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Earlier this week, all the artwork that the kids in the whole school made was finally put on display on the school’s wall. It was so great to see the energy and creativity that occurred in all the classrooms. For me, it was a wonderful experience to be in the classroom again with kids, but this time as a visiting artist/mom. I wanted to share some of the artwork that came out of the classes because I think they are fantastic. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the grades that go with each picture.


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I remember reading the process that this volunteer wrote about her project with the classroom- something about blindfolding the kids and having them draw their portraits, and then using acrylic paint, sand, other miscellaneous items to add onto their portraits. I think this was a 3rd grade class, but not for sure. Very impressive!

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Stitched portraits! Awesome.

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Pop art (sorry for the blur- I had an impatient 5 year old tugging at me)

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Word maps describing themselves and then caricatures, from what I remember reading.

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This one was done with sharpies. Gotta love sharpies!

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This wall of second grade portraits was so wonderful, but with this one-I just loved how her braids went all the way down way past her collage.

The thing to remember about all these projects is that the parents or community artists that volunteered, did so to help a Chicago Public School raise money. We also had to dig into our own pockets for the supplies. Therefore, a lot of what was done had to be done thinking resourcefully and very budget-conscious. I think all teachers can relate to that! But it just goes to show that you don’t have to have fat wallets to create art projects with kids.

I have always loved children’s art. I remember writing a paper on it in college during my coursework for cognitive development. I even got to go into a first grade classroom for one of my clinicals and have the kids draw for me. Fascinating stuff.

“What adults call ‘wrong’ in Child Art is the most beautiful and most precious. I value highly those things done by small children. They are the first and purest source of artistic creation.” – Franz Cizek

10 Comments

  1. by Michelle on February 18, 2012  6:25 pm Reply

    Absolutely fantastic!!!! Thank you so much for sharing these wonderfully creative pieces! Isn't it amazing how free children are when creating? Everyone did a magnificent job - artists and teachers included!!! : )

  2. by tangled sky studio on February 18, 2012  7:51 pm Reply

    Oh my! These are all amazingly beautiful and inspiring. The colors, the imagination and the magic all shine through here. Each self portrait is a treasure trove.

  3. by Paula Scott on February 19, 2012  1:40 am Reply

    OMG-these are absolutely fabulous! So inspirational!

  4. by aimee on February 19, 2012  1:01 pm Reply

    bridgette... i am so taken with this idea. i'm going to do this with my kids and i will link back to you! thank you for this wonderful idea!

  5. by iHanna on February 19, 2012  1:11 pm Reply

    LOVE Noah's portrait, so happy and awesome! *love*

  6. by Kearnsy on February 22, 2012  1:07 am Reply

    I find kids artworks so inspiring. It's the old "unaffected, raw art"

  7. by sarala on March 3, 2012  12:30 pm Reply

    I love children's art especially when displayed as these are. Too bad we force our kids to "outgrow" this phase of their lives.

  8. by Bernadette on March 5, 2015  11:06 pm Reply

    This is so wonderful! And inspiring. I'm going to tell my teacher friends about this!

    • by Bridgette Guerzon Mills on March 6, 2015  12:03 am Reply

      Thank you! Please do. I'm thinking of creating a pdf with instructions as I often get requests on how to do this in the classroom. I'll let you know if I ever do.

  9. by Tracy Do on May 9, 2016  11:27 pm Reply

    Do you have directions on doing this project?

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