At the beginning of each year at DAA, we create self-portraits in art class! This is both a useful and enjoyable endeavor that serves multiple purposes. One being that it gives students the chance to be (re)introduced to a variety of materials and expectations for their use. The process is not always the same from year to year, but in the past it has involved watercolor paint, tempera paint, collage paper, colored pencils, crayons, markers, oil pastel, chalk pastel, glue, and scissors. (I don’t like to wait too long to get the art-making started!) The creation of self-portraits helps with students becoming reacquainted with one another after summer and with getting to know brand new crew members.
We are able to discuss the differences between a self-portrait and a portrait, the reasons why an artist might feel compelled to create a lasting image of her/himself, background, and accuracy and proportion of facial features and other details of self. It is a chance to introduce the important concepts of both creativity and craftsmanship. It is a project that lends itself to the artist’s mentality of seeking and providing feedback that is kind, specific, and helpful.
Self-portraits are reflected on and discussed during student led conferences, but remain in a student’s school portfolio. Their portfolio is a collection of high quality work maintained to show growth over time. By the time they are leaving us, along with classroom work, students will have a self-portrait and reflection from each year that they have had art class!