Pastel Portraits

Room 7 students spent two sessions creating these gorgeous self portraits using pastels and a black and white photograph.

We think they look fantastic. The beauty of this art project is that the students are able to make their piece as true-to-life or as unrealistic as they like. Soft and natural, or bright and dramatic; the choice is up to the artist. 


Kritnesh’s finished portrait.

We began with a black and white headshot of ourselves. Mrs Young made sure we stood in front of a plain background so there would be nothing to detract from the subject - us! After a quick demonstration from Mrs Young we got to work. On a scrap piece of paper we applied a thick layer of pastel and then used our fingers to rub the colour onto the portrait. This took quite some time as we needed to build the colour up slowly so we could still see the portrait underneath. 


Baylee applies colour to her portrait using her finger tips.

Some students chose to go for a more dramatic look and applied colour straight to the photo and then blended with tissue paper. It took a lot of patience. A few of us got a little frustrated with the process and applied too much colour at one time or even ripped the paper, meaning it had to be restarted. 


Ashleigh found it easier to blend the colour with a piece of tissue paper.

We found that the slower we built the colour up, the more realistic the portrait looked at the end. Some students went for a more fantastical portrait and created an alternate self with green or blue skin, funky make up and even jewellery such as crowns and necklaces. 


Jordyn Lea opted for a fun alternative to a traditional portrait and coloured her skin using blue pastel.

A few students decided it was safer to colour the more intricate areas such as eyes and lips with a coloured pencil. 


Charlie-Rose used a bright yellow to represent her long, blonde hair. 

The most important thing is to take your time and massage the pastel in. Then it doesn’t make the colour so thick. 

Max K


Max K’s finished portrait.

The trick is to put the pastel onto a piece of paper and then smudge it onto your art with your finger.



Keanu’s finished portrait.

It was hard because you had to get the pastel right into all the little gaps. 



Charlie-Rose’s finished portrait. 

The tricky part was trying to keep the face colour soft and not too light or dark. You have to rub it a lot to make it soft. 



Zaara’s finished portrait.

The hard part was creating words on my top because it was difficult to outline in black using pastel.  

Te Whetu 


Te Whetu’s finished portrait.

Once we finished our artwork Mrs Young took another headshot; this time while we held up our portrait. Funnily, most of us had the same facial expression on our faces in the new photo. We thought this could even make a cool piece of art in itself - a portrait of ourselves holding a portrait of ourselves! Maybe we could explore this idea next term. 


Holly’s finished portrait. 


Keywords: Visual arts, Technique, Creativity, Self Portrait

pastelportraits art room7 5