Identity: An Effective Self-Portrait Technique for the Classroom

Frida Kahlo, Chuck Close, and Andy Warhol are among the prolific artists that conveyed their identity through a self-portrait. I strongly believe that the theme of “Identity” is necessary to explore in a life of every teenager. Teens are entering the world of abstract ideas, hypothetical situations and formal logic.

A popular art lesson to incorporate in the unit plan of “Identity” is the “Self-Portrait.” However, how do you reduce the anxiety of a teenager who has never had a structured studio art course? From my teaching experience, you reduce the anxiety by facilitating a technique demo that does not require a prerequisite of proficient drawing skills. This technique is called: Carbon Transferring.

Step 1: You will need a xerox self-photo.  

Step 2: On the reverse side of the photo image, you darkly shade the entire page with a carbon pencil. 

Step 3: Tape the xerox self-photo and tape onto a high quality paper (carbon side should face the paper).

Step 4: Sharpen your pencil and trace the entirety of your photo.

Step 5: Once you have finished tracing, check your work by removing tape from 1 side to see the transferred image.

Step 6: Now that you have a replica of your self, you may reflect your identity by using other materials such as sharpie marker, colored pencils, and/or watercolors.              



For further sources and ideas, Art 21 has a great segment on the theme of “Identity”.

CCNY Adjunct Lecturer
Brenda Zamora

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