Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Self Portrait-Literal Cubism

While not necessarily done in the style of Picasso, this project is a fun exploration of shapes and squares. You can use this project as a jumping off point to showcase the work of Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and other Cubist painters. This self-portrait project is done in four parts. The materials listed are only suggestions and I encourage you to try out a variety of mediums. Each part will allow your child to explore line drawing, creative painting (or collage) and scissor skills. You do not have to use a phonebook for the line drawing part of the project. I prefer to use phonebook pages as they allow for variety in paper texture and it uses up all those pesky FREE phonebooks!

What you need:
recycled phonebook pages (white pages work best)
paint of your choice
Glue or adhesive of your choice
paintbrushes or spongebrushes
fat black marker
large sheets of sturdy white paper (11” by 17” is good)

scrumdilly-do it:

For the first part, have your kidlet cover their large sheet of white paper in up to four colors of their choice. Encourage each child to paint the entire sheet so that no white is showing. Set aside to dry.

While that dries, paint your phonebook page all over. For greater visual impact, have your wee one look at their first painting and discuss which color is the least represented and have them showcase that color on their phonebook page. Set aside to dry. Make sure you have your wee one go easy with the brush here as the phonebook paper is delicate and will tear easily when wet. Using a sponge brush will help alleviate tears here. Because the paper is so thin, this will dry fairly quickly.

Once dry, encourage your tot to draw a simple line drawing self portrait in black ink. This is where the fat black marker comes in.

Next up, get those scissors and instruct the children to cut their portrait up into two or more squares or rectangles. You will need to do this if your wee ones are not scissors ready.

Once their large sheet of paper is dry, get out the gluestick and have your kidlet re-assemble their portraits so that there is space between each shape. They can of course mix up their features so that the mouth is on top, etc. It's like a portrait puzzle game. Have fun with it! Once they have their portrait pieces arrange to their liking, back each shape with glue from the gluestick, press and smooth out any creases.

When doing this project, children will work on their fine motor skills, sense of self, shapes, spatial relations and color mixing. They'll also get to know a little more about Picasso and cubism if you choose to share that info as well.

If you do this, make sure to add it to the flickr group so that I may post your projects here for the summer sharing time.


  1. This is AWESOME! I love fun art projects like this! I'll be linking.

  2. This is way cute! I just saved the link in my "lesson links" folder. Thanks!

  3. What a great idea- i'm already thinking of a future craft Tuesday post. I hope to try this at home with my kids and then make a lesson out of it as you suggested with a trip to the museum.

    Thanks for the great idea. We love your site and have a link to it at

  4. Neat-o idea!I'd definitely like to try this 1 w/ my kids in Playcamp...