Primary Emotion Self Portraits

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We started with a photo shoot! For these self portraits, students posed while expressing a strong emotion. Later, they traced on acetate placed over their 8” by 10” photo printout to capture the essence of their likeness. We then projected these transparencies with an overhead projector to enlarge them.


The painting of their portrait could be done with ONLY two primary colors! Students mixed the two primary colors to make secondary colors.

  • Red and Blue made a range of Violets
  • Red and Yellow made a range of Oranges
  • Yellow and Blue made a range of Greens


Students had to carefully plan to achieve a range of analogous, (similar) colors and to differentiate sections of their portrait. The background and final outlining were the only things that could fall outside of the 2-primary color scheme. In many cases, students used the one unused primary color for their outlines, as that provided the most contrast.


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