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Silly Embellished Portraits Project

Feb 19, 2015

One of the things I love doing both as a mom and a teacher is exploring different art processes and projects with kids. While not all kids are naturally inclined to select art projects over other activities, this embellished photo portrait project has always been a hit with my students, and was recently very well liked by my 4-year-old daughter too. Starting with a photo gives little ones a solid jumping off point (which tends to be much more manageable than starting with nothing when it comes to reluctant artists), and the silly nature of the project is definitely a draw also. 

As long as you have a printer and some basic art/craft supplies at home, getting started on embellished photo portraits is a breeze! Now, there are two ways you can go about this—first off, you can take any photo you already have of your child, use a basic editing program to convert it to black and white, and print it off. Easy peasy, right? Or, if you don’t mind an extra step, have your little one put on a solid white shirt and stand in front of a blank wall to have a new photo taken. Just like when using a photo you already have, you’ll want to convert this one to black and white and print it on a full-sized page, but I find that a very simple photo creates an even better canvas for creativity.

Besides the printed photos, you’ll need a variety of art tools and craft embellishments in order to get started. The good news is that there really are no rules here—simply dig through your craft supplies and see what you find! We came up with this fantastic tray of glitter glue, felt flowers, foam stickers, sequins, gems, and markers, plus some crayons and glue that we added to our collection later on.

With your materials prepared, you’re ready to start creating! With projects like this one, I usually opt to let my little one proceed as she chooses, stepping in and giving direction only when it’s requested.

Despite the fact that this project always starts with a photo, I’ve seen it take shape so many different ways over the years. Some kids colour themselves with wacky colours, some accessorize to the max, and others transform themselves into someone else completel—a monster, a superstar, or (my personal favourite) "a wrinkly old grandpa" in the words of one of my first graders.

When your little one declares his or her art piece done, simply let it dry and then hang it up for all to see!  It’s bound to bring about a smile or two.  

Article Author Jen Kossowan
Jen Kossowan

See all of Jen's posts.

Jen is a teacher, blogger, and mama to a spirited little lady and a preemie baby boy. She's passionate about play, loves a good DIY project, adores travelling, and can often be found in the kitchen creating recipes that meet her crunchy mama criteria. You can follow Jen on her blog, Mama.Papa.Bubba, and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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