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Pablo Picasso Collages Inspire Kids to Explore Identity With Self-Portraits

by Catalina Gutierrez
June 7, 2019

Create Picasso collages inspired by the famous artist who co-founded Cubism. A great way for kids to explore identity through this self-portrait activity. Project & post by Catalina Gutierrez of Redviolet Studio.

Finished Picasso collages and child assembling self portrait collage

What is it about Picasso’s art that makes it so attractive to children (as well as adults, of course)?

Maybe it is his amazing ability to create works in so many different styles? Or maybe the colors and the “crazy shapes” (in words of my first graders) he used in his art works? There are so many answers to this question.

Considered an artist as well as an innovator, Picasso is responsible for co-founding, next to Braque, one of my favorite art movements of all times: Cubism.

In Cubism, artists began to look at subjects in new ways in an effort to depict three-dimensions on a flat canvas. Interesting right? And did you know that Cubism was used to paint portraits?

Cut paper shapes in various colors for Picasso collages project for kids

Self-portraits are one of my favorite things to explore with children because they are so deeply connected with identity. And exploring them–through the use of paper collage inspired by Picasso’s work–was so interesting and fun.

Before beginning our Picasso collages, I shared some pictures of Picasso’s work. “The Weeping Woman” was my students’ favorite one. We talked about what they saw, the many shapes forming her face and her expression; all so powerful!

It was a long conversation with lots of questions, theories and comments on the piece.

Then I asked them to imagine if they were Picasso and were commissioned to do a portrait of themselves, what would it look like? And so they started creating their own Picasso collages while being both the artists and the subject matter.

Picasso Collages Inspire Exploration & Self Portraits for kids

Picasso Collages Inspire Self Portraits for Kids


1. Prepare materials for Picasso collages

I did a little pre-cutting and assembling before I presented this activity to the children, but nothing too complicated so don’t be scared! Here is what I suggest doing the night before:

  • Pre-cut the shapes of the faces in different colors and glue them onto the black 12×12 paper.
  • Pre-cut circles out of the different papers. We used circle hole punchers in various sizes for this part and many kinds of papers: colored, mirror paper, paint swatches, etc.
  • Pre-cut other shapes out of these papers as well such as: squares, rectangles, triangles, hexagons, half circles, and just any random shape that comes out. Be playful with the scissors!

And that’s pretty much it for the prepping the day before! See, not too bad right?

The day you are going to do the actual activity, here is what you’ll do:

Boy cutting and glueing paper shapes for Picasso inspired self portrait collage

2. Cut shapes

Start by setting out the pre-assembled black paper with the faces, one for each kid.

Set out all the pre-cut shapes and let them know you made these so they get an idea of the different kinds of forms they can cut out on their own for their self-portraits.

Assembling Picasso collages–self portraits for kids made with cut paper shapes

Give them scissors and set out colored paper, paint swatches and any other fun paper you have around. Ask them to begin cutting the paper in the shapes they want so as to form their Picasso collage self-portraits.

Remind them to make sure and keep in mind every part of the face–every angle, nose hair, eyes, ears, etc…

Let them know they can also use the pre-cut shapes you laid out.

Child assembling face for Picasso inspired self portrait collages

3. Assemble & glue shapes for Picasso collages

Start by assembling all the pieces over the face as the kids want them to look. This allows the kids to move them around if necessary, until they have their desired end piece. Student creating Picasso collages and self portrait for kids with cut paper shapes

Lastly, bring out the glue sticks and ask them to start gluing all of their shapes to the face!

Student holds up self portrait inspired by Pablo Picasso

4. Share portraits

Have everyone (if you are doing this activity with several kids) share their self-portraits and explain a little of what is going on and why they made certain choices for their artwork.

Student holds up Picasso inspired collage portrait with pink and purples cut paper shapes

It is so much fun to hear the kids talk about their pieces!

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These colorful Picasso collages help kids explore identity as they create self portraits by cutting and assembling paper. #preschoolers #kidsactivities #kidsart #artsandcrafts #artforkids #picasso

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