Acrylic Self Portraits and Fair Use Laws

This project is a great way to introduce some basics about acrylic paint and hook them for future painting projects.  My main goal is to practice tints, shades, and color mixing.  It’s a great way to get them hooked and eager to create on their own.  I also link this project to Shepard Fairey as a way to talk about contemporary street art and fair use laws.  They love his graphic style and become passionate about the discussion.

Who would have thought teens would have such a hard time producing a favorite selfie!?!?!  It has to be one of my most frustrating moments in this project, but it’s worth it.  We use Pixlr Chromebook app to create the posterized effect.  Then they enlarge the image on a Google Doc and submit.  I use PDF Mergy to merge all of the documents together and print them in a batch per class.


The paint I supplied them with was a warm and cool: red, blue, and yellow.  Along with, white and black to create values.  I tried FIFO squeeze bottles this year and can’t say enough about how great they are!  Paper plates and plastic wrap are available for pallets.  I stress recycling and ideally no paint should ever go down the sink…. ideally.  I give them their own brushes to keep.  For the most part, they take better care of them if it’s their own brush vs. a class set. 

Screen Shot 2019-07-10 at 8.53.16 AM

Developing successful color schemes is a challenge!  Mixing light values is also difficult, especially due to colors drying darker.  I have a gigantic paint-chip book from Sherwin-Williams.  It’s great to compare values and play with color choices. The rest of the project is pretty straight forward.  It literally becomes a paint by number and takes the stress out of painting a portrait for the first time.

Web-based Slideshow

Editable Slideshow

Color Scheme Planning Sheet

Shepard Fairey Digital Notes


Published by

Cheralynn Johnston

Having the ability to flip the room so my students are leading their own learning has given me more freedom to help students one on one. I started off by making video demonstrations and since have been wrapping my lessons up in a HyperDoc. I wouldn't say my room has been completely flipped, but it is definitely blended learning. I love teaching and I am thrilled that I can share my lessons with you.

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