small paintings

Self-Portraits: What They Reveal

Self-Portraits: What They Reveal

I recently did small paintings with the kids, which I wrote about here. One of their “assignments” was to paint a self-portrait. I helped them a little bit by drawing the proportions for them lightly in pencil. This way, they all had the same starting point. I had them use a black sharpie to draw their face and hair, and then use watercolor to paint the rest.

I revisited this project often over the course of a month, inviting their friends and other neighborhood kids to make one whenever they happened to be over at our house. I wanted a collection of self-portraits because there was something that was beginning to fascinate me. As I watched these kids (ages 5 to 12) draw in their facial features, they all had a different innate style. Some drew their mouth gigantic, some so small they were hardly there. There were noses and eyes in all sizes, too. I began to wonder…were these drawings arbitrary, or did they mean something? I did a little research and here is what I discovered:

Eyes: Large eyes indicate intellectual curiosity, a vivid imagination, and sensitivity. Small eyes show organization.

Nose: A large nose shows decisiveness, an idealistic mind and bossiness. A small nose shows kindness and sensitivity.

Lips: A large mouth show emotional availability and a sensitive nature. Full lips indicate a confident, spontaneous, risk-taker with a charming nature. Thin lips indicate a measured and selective person who appreciates subtlety.

Forehead: A large forehead shows an ability to learn and digest information. A smaller forehead shows a person who acts first and thinks afterwards. An average forehead means you’re intelligent and able to see two sides to every story.

Of course we should take this all with a grain of salt. They could have been copying their neighbor (ha)! But interesting, nonetheless.



Small Paintings

Small Paintings

These small paintings are beautiful, aren’t they? I love this project. It is perfect for any age (we had ages 2 to 12 painting these sweet little gems), and the white edge is so striking and arty it just makes me happy. Truly, you could have the ugliest little painting but when that tape comes off it becomes a Rothko or an O’Keefe. It’s magical!


Watercolors (we used our awesome new set from Vilac, but you can also use these)

Tape (I tried both painter’s tape and washi to similar effect)

Brushes (i like this mixed pack with palette)


Watercolor paper (i buy bigger and then cut to 4 x 6)

Tape down a piece of paper for each person (our border is about 1/4″). I put out newspaper but you could easily tape it to another piece of paper so it’s movable, or directly to your work surface. This is not a messy project, the newspaper was really there just to protect the table from the tape. We did several variations on the small theme: small portraits, small still lifes and small abstracts. (For more in depth instruction on using watercolors with kids, you can read my post here.) The only rule was to cover all of the paper with paint. (This makes for a more dramatic white edge!)

Once they are dry, sloooowwwwly peel off the tape. And then, voila! You have beautiful art to hang in your home.

Enjoy this project…and you should make one, too! Leave the supplies out for a day or two and make many paintings so that you can hang them all up together.

Via Red Bird Crafts