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Pop Art Self Portraits 

Back when I was a youth services librarian, I created the following instructions for a program about creating artwork using sharpies.  As I was browsing through my computer files today, I came across the instructions. I immediately had the thought that this could be a threefold project. First, we have the Doubler which is a concept introduced in the book The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. The Doubler is when you look back on a journal entry and relive the experience. Finding this file had a similar effect for me. I remember how relaxing it was to create my example piece for my teen group. That leads me to my second pieces: mindfulness. This is a small “c” creative activity that can lead to a clam state of mind and therefore reduce stress. The last part is that, depending on the final product, this could be a great low-cost activity that could become a gift for the grandparents when done with kids or artwork to display on any blank wall space. My main focus is of course stress reduction, but, hey, my son likes to draw!


• Photograph

• Copy Machine

• Paper

• Pencil/Charcoal

• Popsicle Stick

• Black Sharpie

• Colored Markers

• Ruler

Take photographs of portraits blown up on a copy machine. Make a charcoal transfer by rubbing the back of the copies with charcoal. Place the photocopy charcoal side down on a sheet of white paper. Using a sharp pencil, trace the outline of the image on the photocopy. Make sure to press hard when tracing as this will transfer an outline of the image onto the other paper using the chalk. After the transfer is complete, use a marker to trace the chalk outline. Another alternative to chalk is to trace the outline of the photocopy image with thick heavy dark pencil. Place the penciled photocopy face down on a clean sheet of white paper. Using a popsicle stick, rub at the paper so the pencil lines transfer to the back of the top sheet of paper.

Once your transfer is complete, use a dark marker to outline all your pencil or chalk outlines on the white paper. (If you want clean images, it is best to use the pencil technique as any unwanted pencil marks are easier to erase than the charcoal technique). Use a ruler to add a line of dots to the face of your image, the face should be filled with dots similar to artwork by Roy Lichtenstein or early comic strip prints. Bold colors can be used to fill in other areas like hair or clothes.

Reading Suggestions:

Hendrickson, Janis. Roy Lichtenstein, 1923-1997. (2001)

Metzger, Phil. The Art of Perspective: The Ultimate Guide for Artists in Every Medium. (2007)

Osterwold, Tilman. Pop Art. (2007)

Rubin, Susan. Whaam! The Art and Life of Roy Lichtenstein. (2008)

Here is a quick example I created using an app called Art Rage for iOS… hopefully you have better luck with your portraits, but it was fun creating it! — yes, I drew those dots free hand. That is why you need the ruler. It will look better, trust me! 

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