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How to Draw Abstract Self Portraits

by Lauren Signorelli
March 19, 2023

Lauren Signorelli of Artful Playhouse shows us how to draw abstract self portraits for kids in 6 simple steps! Then paint with watercolors to make the portraits pop!

Updated April 2023

My background is primarily in Early Childhood Education so diving into elementary art was new and exciting for me. Today, I’m so excited to share our abstract self portraits for kids. 

For my very first Art Club Kids class, I wanted to focus the semester on bringing out confidence, personality and pride not only in kids’ artwork, but also within themselves.

Photo by Lauren Signorelli

I began gathering fun, engaging lessons that focused on individuality using the typical “All About Me” preschool theme mindset. And I came across this amazing directed abstract portrait drawing lesson by Kathy Barbro from Art Projects for Kids and I couldn’t wait to give it a try!

I like to go big and bold in the studio and this activity was perfect. 

Child drawing abstract portait on white paper
Photo by Lauren Signorelli

Abstract Self Portraits for Kids

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  1. Fold paper into fours and draw the nose

    We used heavy weight white paper or cardstock folded into fours to create guidelines.
    Use the middle line as a guide and draw the nose. Make sure to extend either side of the nose to the top of the paper.

    Child drawing portrait on paper with oil pastels

  2. Now draw the mouth and chin

    Below the nose, draw a mouth or lips. 
    Start just above the center guideline and travel underneath the mouth to the adjacent side and draw the chin.

  3. Draw the eyes

    In the middle of the top quadrants, draw two curved lines horizontally for the eyes (touch the bridge of the nose to the side of the paper). 
    Finish the inside of the eyes using two curved lines touching top to bottom of the inside of the eye. Add two small circles inside. 

  4. Add the neck

    Finally, reach from the chin and in line with the corners of the mouth, draw the neck and extend it to the very bottom of the paper. 

    Self portraits for kids

  5. Outline drawing with Sharpie marker

    Kids always love when you bust out the Sharpies! Now that the basic portrait was complete, we used a black sharpie to outline all of our work.

    Although this was a directed drawing project, the next steps really allowed for the kids’ creativity to shine through!

  6. Add detail with oil pastels, then paint with watercolors

    Watercolor resist art is magic for any age and we applied that magic to our portraits.

    We discussed lines and pattern before getting to work adding various designs within the shapes of our faces with oil pastels.  Some kids designed with symmetry in mind while others made each section unique. 

    Child painting abstract portrait for kids

Once we were happy with our designs, it was time to complete our work with watercolors. I also encouraged my students to fill every white space on their paper.  

The end result was big, bold, unique and beautiful! I couldn’t love these portraits more and every student was beaming with pride! 

Colorful abstract portrait painting for kids
Photo by Lauren Signorelli

More Portrait Art for Kids

Does your child want to explore the world of drawing and expand their skills? Check out our three-part Drawing Skills Master Class for kids! Your child can learn to draw at home with 3 unique modules: Line & ShapeLight & Shadow, and Perspective. With at-home video lessons and easy-to-follow printable workbooks, your child will build skills and confidence as they learn to draw!

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How to Draw Abstract Self Portraits

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