MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape

Students create a self-portrait using colour to express their feelings and emotions.   

Required Time

70 Minutes

Grade Level

Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 3


Language Arts
Visual Arts


colour emotions expression feelings line texture


Black Fine Line Marker Pencils White Paper 279mm x 432mm (11" x 17") straw White Paper (from a sketchbook or recycled) Newspapers Scissors Masking Tape Paint

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MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step One

Step One

Use a pencil to sketch your head, neck and shoulders. Draw the details of your face to show the expression you want your portrait to have, for example, happy, sad, angry, confused.

MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Two

Step Two

Outline your drawing with a black fine line marker. Colour your portrait with crayons.

MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Three

Step Three

Place a piece of white paper (scrap or recycled) on top of your portrait and trace the head only. Cut out the shape and place it on top of your drawing so it covers the head. Roll up a small piece of masking tape and place it on the back of the shape to help hold it in place.

MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Four

Step Four

Cover your table with newsprint. Use paint and straws to blow the paint onto the paper. Make sure you use a different straw for each colour. You only need to suck in a very little bit and then blow out the paint with one big breath. Point the straw in the direction you want the paint to go. Remember to choose colours that express your feelings.

MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Five

Step Five

Carefully remove the paper shape from your drawing. Allow the paint to dry over night.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  1. Create an expressive self-portrait;
  2. Use colour to express feelings;
  3. Use their imagination and problem-solving skills;
  4. Explain their process; and
  5. Express opinions about the works.


  1. Have students look for other materials around the classroom they could use to paint with to create lines.
  2. Encourage them to use the materials to create new paintings and compare the results.
  3. Ask questions such as,
    How are the tools alike?
    What do the tools do differently?
    How are the marks different from each other? Why?
    What tools did you like working with? Why?


  1. Gather required art materials and set up a painting centre.
  2. Download the Colour Wheel available on this website.
    Colour Wheel
  3. Gather and make available a variety of books about colours and their various meanings, for example, The Color Book, by Sophie Benini; The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt.
  4.  Gather and make available a variety of books about feelings and emotions, for example, The Feelings Book, by Toff Parr; The Very Lonely Firefly, by Eric Carl; Hilly Discovers Her Feelings, by Meytel Raz-Nave and Shany Golan.
  5. Download images of a variety of emotions from the Internet.


  1. Read several of the suggested colour books and discuss how colours were represented in each story.  
  2. Introduce the colour wheel to the students and ask questions such as, 
    What colour are you when you are excited?
    - What colour are you when you are angry?
    - How could you use colour to show you are super excited and happy?
  3. Read several of the suggested feelings books.
  4. Discuss how the characters in the stories used colours to represent their feelings and emotions.
  5. Display the colour wheel and the pictures. Ask students to choose a picture and to say what emotion they see in it. Ask them to place the picture near the colour they think represents the emotion, and then say why.
  6. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Create an expressive self-portrait.
  2. Use colour to express feelings.
  3. Use your imagination and problem-solving skills.
  4. Explain your process.
  5. Express opinions about the works.


The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  3. Observe students as they work. 
  4. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


  1. Once all the pictures are complete display them for a group discussion. 
  2. During the discussion include references to:
    colours - How do the colours make you feel?
    - expression - Why did you choose that expression? How do the colours contribute to the feelings you wanted to express?
    - technique – How did you create that effect with the paint? How does the way the paint is applied contribute to the emotions expressed in the picture?



  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the art works – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Downloads - Portrait_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - Portrait_self-assessment.pdf)