Inside-Out Self Portraits

These self portraits were created by children whose families were facing severe financial challenges and homelessness. The boys and girls first learned and practiced simple portrait drawing techniques. They also learned about several well known artists who had created many self portraits. The children discovered that the self portraits were often not a realistic representation of the artist's outside appearance but instead captured who they were, and what they were feeling on the inside. The children wrote a list of words to describe themselves then created their own "inside-out" self portrait. They could choose to use the portrait drawing techniques they had learned or create a self portrait that was completely abstract. When finished each child wrote about their self portrait and what it represented about them.

My face is split into two parts. One side shows my happy side. It is filled with warm colors like the sun. On my happy side is my future house and dog. We will also get some fish and birds. We can't have any pets where we live now. The blue side of my face shows my sadness. I miss my dog Jasmine and my birds. We had to give my dog and birds away. The faces on the blue side are my Dad. He is fading because I never see him anymore. The crack shows that my new life and old life are very different. There is a big split in my mind between before and after. Sometimes it almost feels like I am two people. My eyes look like the earth because I am very curious about the world. I have a question mark in my eye because I ask lots of questions. That eye is also looking forward to the future when things will be happier. I drew myself to look like a tiger. I am a tiger because a tiger is usually alone and hidden, but stays close to it's family. That's how I feel now. My heart is hurt but it is healing with my Mom's love. The band-aid on my heart shows that. The paint brushes represent art and the colorful hair represents my imagination. Art sets my imagination free! I drew my sister like a peacock because she like to dress up and show off. I drew my mom like a lioness because, like a lioness, she does all the work for our family. 

Madison, age 9

My eyes show that I am confused and scared. You can't see what I feel. I keep my feelings hidden. I am all tense inside. I feel like I am about to be torn apart into tiny pieces I would be like a sandman. My face is blue because sometimes I act cold to others so they will leave me alone. The two steel doors on my chest hold in all my anger and bad thoughts so they won't burst out. The lock rattles and shakes because sometimes I am about to explode. That's when I take a deep breath, go outside under the clouds and calm down. Looking at clouds brings me peace. Around the clouds the sky is red. It shows that there is still anger in me and I can't get away from it.

Jakobe, age 9

Some people say that I shouldn't be mad at the world but I am. They tell me that what I am mad about are "little" things that don't really matter. But those "little" things, don't seem little to me, and they still really hurt!. The left side of my portrait shows my pain and anger. I am pulling on my ear because it hurts from hearing all the bad things the world has to say. The right side of my portrait shows happiness. BIG things like love and family make me happy. The sun and light blue sky represent joy and happiness. On this side my face is striped with bright happy colors too.

Timmon, age 11

I divided my portrait into sections. Each section has torn looking edges to shows that my life is a bit torn apart right now. The top section has soft, light colors to represent things that calm me when I start to worry. The beach is one of the best places for me to feel calm. When I am mad going outside and seeing beautiful green grass brings me peace. Tigers are my favorite animal, so I put orange in this section. 

The middle section shows my sadness. My face is blue because it represent tears and crying. My hair is dark to show sadness. There is no specific reason I am sad. It is just a mood that comes over me. It might be a lot of little things adding up. 

The bottom two sections represent happiness. My face is green like the grass, and my hair and shirt are pink. Pink is my favorite color. There are blue streaks in my hair that look like waves. I am happy at the beach and when I look up at a beautiful blue sky.

Jalizza, age 10