Self Portraits + Things Kids Think

My students are currently working on an oil pastel self-portrait project. Art funding was recently donated to our school, I’m so thankful for this. To show my appreciation, I’m documenting one of our projects for the donors, but also sharing the finished result with you all here.

For my students, we focused heavily on drawing ourselves from life, looking into mirrors and studying our faces, and mixing oil pastels to our correct skin tone. We sub-focused on diversity, and overcoming challenges when making art.

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Each student was given an interview question. I came up with random thought provoking questions, tossed them together,  then had each student pull a question and answer it verbally. Below are their responses along with their oil pastel self-portraits.

In a time when the world feels hairy, divided, and hopeless, I can always count on children to turn my thoughts back to positive and hopeful. I’m so proud of them.

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Q: What is something kind you can do today? A: “I could help people on their classwork. I can play with my classmates at wellness.” Q: What’s something kind you can do every single day? A: “Give compliments, play with my sister.” Q: Do you enjoy playing with your sister every day? A: “Yes. No, Not everyday. Maybe every other day.” – Samuel

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Q: Tell me about the self-portrait process:  A: “At first when I was trying to make my skin color, I thought I was doing well, but then when I went to put it on my face it was bad. Then when I lightened it up, it started to look better. When I finally finished, it was really good.” – Jesus

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Q: If you had one million dollars, what would you do with it? A: “Buy a house, then get people to make me artwork of Michael Jordan. Then get a basketball with Michael Jordan’s signature. I would buy my mom a new car, something she’s been working for. Maybe build a restaurant for people to eat at. A shelter for homeless people to live in, eat in for free, and they don’t have to pay for anything while they are getting back on their feet. Maybe my own business, maybe a business that sells Michael Jordan clothes and stuff like that.” – David

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Q: How can you help the future of humanity? A: “Clean up. Help people who don’t have much. My mom does that. She goes to the store and buys supplies and makes care packages.” – Naylah

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Q: What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen? A: “It has to be my favorite animal, giraffes. They are really pretty, and have a really pretty pattern.” -Katelyn

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Q: Describe the perfect Friday Night. A: “Probably going to the movies with my friends. Going to Olive Garden. Hanging out with friends.” – Sophie

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Q: If a classmate was sitting alone at lunch, what would you do? A: “Sit with them, if that’s what they wanted. We can talk about what they like, or what I like. Q: Even if your friends didn’t? A:” I would sit with them anyways.” – Mia

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Q: If you could change one thing about ANYTHING, what would it be? A:” I would change abandoned buildings.” Q: How? A: “I would turn it into a house so homeless people could live in it. I would change the dirty lakes into clean lakes.” Q. How would you do that? A: Over the summer, I would go to the lakes to change the pipes.” – Dereon

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Q: Do you like or dislike using oil pastels? And why? A: I dislike them because it get’s all over your hands and other colors stick to one another and makes the paper look all dirty.” – Nolan

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Q: What is the funniest thing you ever did? A: “When we had a Chihuahua dog named Chloe, I said the “SH” word on accident when she went poop all over the house.” – Erica

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Q: What are you most proud of in your self portrait? And in life? A: “The background because it looks really light and has a lot of light colors and detail. In life, learning to take care of myself. I tried to do it, then just got really good at it. I get myself ready each day.” -Devon

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Q: What type of person do you want to be today? And when you grow up? A: “An artist today. Hmm, a scientist. Nice, respectful, helpful.” Q: What will you do as a scientist? A: “Find ways to cure diseases.”

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Q: How can you promote peace in your school and classroom? A: “You can be helpful to your friend in need, like my friend was in need of a tissue. She had a real bad bloody nose. Also, be respectful, about anything. Always be nice. When people are hurt I can help them out. When people are sad, I can make them happy.” – Victoria

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Q: Describe your perfect day: A:”It’s like today is” Q: What do you mean by that? A: “Basically kind of like painting, but we are using oil pastels.” Q: What about the other aspects of a perfect day? A: “It would kind of be fall mixed with some summer” – Isabella

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Q: What was the most difficult part of this project? How did you overcome it? A: The background because you wouldn’t know what to do on it. My friend gave me this idea and I ran with it.” – Cassie

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Q: How do you feel when you are making art? A: “I feel good and artistic and happy. Whenever I come to art, we always get to learn about coloring and art and stuff.” -Eh Has

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Q: What has been your favorite experience EVER? A: “Probably when I went to Ohio to visit Kings Island. They had fun games and we got on rollercoasters.” – Michael

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Q: When do you feel happiest? A: “When I’m with my mom and dad. They will do anything for me.” – Tessa

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Q: Who do you admire, and why? A: “Stephan Curry. I have his Jersey on my self-portrait. He’s a basketball player and I like basketball too. I have his shoes and watch all of his games with my dad and brother.” – Dustin

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Q: Thoughts on oil pastels? A:”I think they are very messy, I like them. You can color dark, and mix colors.” -Messiah

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Q:Tell me about your personality? I’m very bland. I’m more of a hyper person. I’m sensitive. I’m really really nosey. I’m not athletic at all. The only athletic things I like is football and soccer. 50/50 good listener. I can do lots of things with my voice. I’m not understanding, but I’m kind and polite. I’m silly? Q: Really silly or just silly? A: Just silly. Q: How can you use your personality to benefit others? A: I could make people happier, when they are sad I can go up to them and make them happy” -Kaeman

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Q. What are you most thankful for? A: “I’m most thankful for being in my family. My family, they like, give me toys for Christmas, take care of me, they love me. Oh! and being alive!” – Jamari

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Q: What are your thoughts on people who look and think differently than you? A: “It’s okay to be different than other people, and that even though they are different you don’t need to judge them.” Q: Are you friends with people that are different than you? A: “Yeah” Q: How? A: “They don’t like sports, skin color, hair color, I like UK and others don’t. My friend likes the Cowboys.” – Noah

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The self-portrait project could be adapted for children of all ages 4 and up. If you are using this project in a home setting, I would recommend dividing the process up over several days. Definitely a keepsake art project, and perhaps a tradition for your child each year paired with a couple paragraphs about their current self.

Please feel free to share this post for others to see. Happy Sunday!

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