MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape

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

Required Time

70 Minutes

Grade Level

Kindergarten to Grade 3


Language Arts
Visual Arts


colour emotions expression feelings shape texture


Crayola Fine Line Markers - Black Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Scissors Crayola Washable Paint Pencils Drinking Straws Masking Tape Newspapers

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MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step One

Step One

  1. Use a pencil to sketch your head, neck and shoulders. 
  2. Draw the details of your face to show the expression you want your portrait to have.
    - happy
    - sad
    - angry
    - confused
    - etc.
MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Outline your drawing with a black fine line marker. 
  2. Use crayons to colour your portrait.
MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Place a piece of white paper (scrap or recycled) on top of your portrait.
  2. Trace the head only. 
  3. Cut out the shape.
  4. Place it on top of your drawing so it covers the head.
  5. Roll a small piece of masking tape into a loop with the sticky side facing out.
  6. Place it on the back of the shape to help hold it in place.
MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Four

Step Four

  1. Cover your table with newspaper.
  2. Use paint and straws to blow the paint onto the drawing.
  3. Make sure you blow not suck the paint. 
    - spoon a small amount of paint onto the cover paper where you want the hair to be 
    - point the straw in the direction you want the paint to go
    - blow the paint with one big breath
    - keep blowing and adding more paint until you are satisfied with how it looks
    - remember to choose colours that express your feelings
MIND BLOWING ART – Expressive Colour, Shape - Step Five

Step Five

  1. Carefully remove the paper shape from your drawing.
  2. Allow the paint to dry overnight.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • blow paint with a straw to create a self-portrait;
  • use colour to express feelings;
  • explain their process; 
  • express opinions about the artworks;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.


Have students:

  • look for other things around the classroom they could use as tools to paint with;
  • experiment with the tools to create new paintings;
  • compare the new paintings with their self-portraits;
  • discuss their paintings with a partner answering 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?
  • share their ideas with the whole class.


  1. Set up a painting centre containing, paper, drinking straws; washable paint; scissors; black fine line markers; newspapers; plastic spoons; pencils; and masking tape.
  2. Download and display the Colour Wheel poster available on this website.
  3. Gather and make available a variety of books about colours and feelings, for example, The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings, by Anna Llenas; The Color Book, by Sophie Benini; The Day the Crayons Quit, by Drew Daywalt; Colors of Love (Crayola), by Tina Gallo and Tony Neal; My Many Colored Days, by Dr. Seuss, Steve Johnson, and Lou Fancher; In My Heart: A Book of Feelings (Growing Hearts), by Jo Witek, and Christine Roussey; The Feelings Book, by Toff Parr; The Very Lonely Firefly, by Eric Carl; and Hilly Discovers Her Feelings, by Meytel Raz-Nave and Shany Golan.
  4. Download and print images of a children showing a variety of emotions from the Internet.


  1. Conduct a read-aloud with a book such as The Color Monster: A Pop-Up Book of Feelings, by Anna Llenas focusing on how colours can  represent feelings. 
  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. Display the colour wheel and the downloaded 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
  4. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Blow paint with a straw to create a self-portrait.
  2. Use colour to show your feelings.
  3. Explain how you made your self-portrait.
  4. Express opinions about the artworks.
  5. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students, for example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - created a self-portrait
    - blown paint with a straw
    - cut out an organic shape
    - used colour to show my feelings
    - explained how I made my self-portrait
    - kept my work in good condition
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. 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 their painting – speaks with a clear voice, looks at audience while speaking, points to areas in the painting, provides accurate information, answers questions from the audience effectively.
  3. Observe students as they listen – looks at presenter, asks effective questions, supports ideas with evidence found in the artwork.
  4. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - Portrait_tracking.pdf)
  5. Have students in grade 1 use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Downloads - Portrait_self-assessment.pdf)