Digital Art: Self Portraits vs. Selfies

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw

Tommy E.

A large part of November found my art classes engaged in Digital Art Making with their iPads. One of the projects was Self Portraits accomplished through the rotoscoping (tracing outlines) method traditionally used in animation. It has been our good fortune to have been graced with a student teacher in her Field Study III practicum (one full day each week) this fall. Her name is Shaina and her Fine Arts concentration a few years ago was Photography. Shaina’s practicum requires that she plan and execute a lesson, and lucky for us she chose to include photography.


Shaina led the classes in observation and discussion about photographic Selfies vs. Self Portraits – the implied in-the-moment and marking time and place nature of Selfies, and the thoughtful, purposeful intent of Self Portraits. She gave examples of both, focusing mainly on the self portraiture of both women and men, people of color, the serious, the sardonic, and the soulful. It was a wonderful way to weave art history with art appreciation and art making.

Students began by taking a few photographs of themselves with iPads and then imported them into Autodesk Sketchbook as a base layer. On layers added above the photo, students first outlined their image and then painted using a variety of brushes, color mixing, and blending. When the painting was complete, students deleted the photo layer and were encouraged to consider adding color or a different photo for the background.

Here are some of the self-portraits with Artist Statements that can be found in our online Artsonia gallery here:

Usually I make myself stop at choosing about ten pieces from all the excellent artwork, but with this project, I had a hard time stopping. Please indulge me and enjoy these additional self portraits:

As we bid farewell to Shaina who is moving on to her next practicum experience after the holidays, it is clear she has had a positive, aesthetic impact on the Miscoe Hill fifth and sixth grade students. Just look at this artwork!

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Digital Art with Superimposing and SketchNoting …

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