Modigliani Self Portraits

This was the final week in the art room for the 3rd and 4th graders so I wanted to choose a project that was both straight forward and fun. Self portraits can be quite daunting. But not when they’re done in the style of the Italian artist, Modigliani. I am not that familiar with his paintings. But after this week’s lesson, I have a feeling that the Shady Oak students and I will be revisiting his work frequently. His work is, “dominated by his sense of linear designhe used distortion as a way of highlighting characteristics of his subjects…he developed his own unique style experimenting with impressionism, surrealism and cubism. Many of his subject’s heads are elegantly bowed, with swan-like necks and sloping shoiulders. The effect is delicate and gentle …His faces are very distinctive with the long, thin noses, the empty almond-shaped eyes and the tiny pursed lips.
Once I had talked a little about Modigliani’s style and life and shown them a few examples of his paintings
(click on the following link to learn more about Modigliani) http://www.whoismodi.com/, it was time for the students
to begin their self portraits. They were provided with an elongated oval template in order to draw a head and were
then guided through the drawing of the facial features. As the nose, mouth and eyes are distorted, the students
did not obsess over drawing their features exactly. This often happens when children are asked to draw a self
portrait. I felt that Modigliani’s style gave them a great sense of freedom and confidence. They were then instructed
to add hair. (This was a good time to remind them that hair does not sit on top of the head, but flows on to the face
and behind the neck.) They then had to outline their pencil lines with a sharpie. The next step was to add paint.
Students did a great job matching up their skin, eye and hair color. The final stage was to add a monochromatic
background. I looooooooove these! Fabulous job 3rd and 4th. (Lesson plan courtesy of
But wait…there’s more. The students had finished their paintings in three lessons. So I thought it would be fun if
they created another Modigliani-like portrait. This time they could draw whatever character they chose. They used
colored pencils instead of paint. Some of these portraits are very telling! Parents watch out as I think many
of your children would like to be Rock Stars when they grow up 🙂
What a wonderful year we’ve had. I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching art to your children and I hope have inspired
them to be bold, be creative and to continue having fun with paint, pencils, paper, glue etc.

Portrait of a Polish Woman, 1919
Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, 1884-1920)

Hannah C.

Hannah C.

Cameron W.

Cameron W.

Isabella O.

Isabella O.

Parker A.

Parker A.

Edie P.

Edie P.

Benjamin L.

Benjamin L.

Jasmine S.

Jasmine S.

Terrie B.

Terrie B.

Ryan T.

Ryan T.

Hannah T.

Sophie S.

Nicolette M.

Students working on their portraits

Students working on their portraits

About stephwheatley

Formerly from Britain, I have lived in the USA since 1989. My qualifications are in library science, but I've had a passion for all things artsy and crafty for as long as I can remember! I became the Primary Art Teacher at Shady Oak Christian School in 2009 and am thoroughly enjoying myself. I teach students at both Shady Oak Christian School and Shady Oak Primary School. It's wonderful to be able to share my passion at a place that believes in the importance of learning through creativity. Please check out the Shady Oak websites at http://www.shadyoak.net/ and http://www.shadyoakprimary.com/ to learn more about these unique schools located in Richmond, TX.
Gallery | This entry was posted in 3rd Grade Art Work, 4th Grade Art Work, Art Work and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Modigliani Self Portraits

  1. Cathy Wesley says:

    LOVE these! I’ve always been fascinated by self portraits, you learn so much about someone through them. These are definitely “keepers”…I need more wall space! ( :

    • We need to have an adult class. These were so much fun to do. The kiddos were so comfortable working on their second portrait, I’d keep a close eye on Cam. Crazy rock star tendencies methinks!!!!!

  2. Ingrid says:

    Sophie LOVED this project! We’ll frame this one as well. Thank you for these fantastic years!

    • Thanks Ingrid. I loved this project too! They were all so confident and creative with their portraits. It was a great project with which to end the year. Oh how we will miss you and Sophie 😦 I know you will come back and visit 🙂

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