Who am I? What do I look like? What makes me distinct?
Answering these open-ended questions requires deep thinking and introspection. For Chapin’s youngest students, paint, paper and wood were essential tools. In Lauren McCarty’s art class, the Kindergarteners recently embarked on a self-portrait project that served as a lovely extension of their ongoing studies around identity.
To begin, Ms. McCarty showed the girls how to mix paints to achieve a nuanced hue. Using small mirrors, they looked closely at their faces. Were their complexions olive or rosy or a darker shade of brown? As they dipped brushes in pallets of red, blue and yellow and swirled them together on their work surfaces, they tried to create colors that they felt were close to their own skin tones.
Tracing paper was used to form the basic shape of their heads. Standing in front of a bright light, the girls saw that their heads and faces created a shadow on the paper. Ms. McCarty helped them sketch the shadow in pencil. After carefully cutting along the pencil lines, they pasted the paper on to a thin wooden board. Then, using the paint they mixed themselves, the students applied it to their paper selves.
For the next step in the process, the Kindergartners brought their portraits to life by adding physical features like eyes, mouth, and hair. Instead of drawing directly on the paper, Ms. McCarty opted for an abstract mixed-media treatment, which gave the students more artistic freedom.
From a tray of dissimilar wooden shapes, they selected items to glue on to their faces. From almond-shaped eyes topped with circular beads to L-shaped noses composed of two small rectangles to wide smiles of connected pieces, these self-portraits were as extraordinary as the artists who created them. One girl even constructed a bow for her portrait’s hair.
Although the project is over now, the portraits are on display in the art room and are a wonderful demonstration of the Kindergartners’ ability to express their identities by capturing their beautiful and unique faces.
Browse photos from the project below: