Art-Making Activity: Mixed Mood/Media Self Portraits

Joan Miró (Spanish, 1893-1983), Portrait of a Young Girl, 1935, Oil with sand on cardboard, 49 x 37 inches, Bequest of Victor K. Kiam, 77.294

Artists utilize color to create expression in works of art. Artist Joan Miró painted this abstract image of a “young girl” using organic shapes and a range of bold colors. Perhaps it was someone he knew and how he saw them in an extension of his imagination? In this activity, you will make a mixed-media self-portrait using one color of your choice. 

Color can influence or represent our mood and state of mind. The way that we see ourselves may change based on our emotions. Some days you picture yourself one way, but when you look at your reflection in a mirror you appear different from what you envisioned! What color do you see or “feel” today?


  • Watercolor paper or (heavy) white drawing paper
  • Crayons/colored pencils
  • Oil pastels (optional)
  • Watercolor paints
  • Mirror


1. Position yourself comfortably in front of a mirror or at your preferred workspace with a small mirror propped.

2. Choose ONE COLOR drawing tool—a crayon, oil pastel, or colored pencil—and draw the outline (shape) of your face.

3. Using a different tool, of the same color, add attributes like eyes, nose, mouth, etc. to your face. Add other details, like clothing, jewelry, and hair with another tool, yet, same color. You may “color in” any parts with the colored pencil or crayon only.

4. Paint over your portrait with a layer of watercolor, again, using the same color used in the drawing portion.

5. Allow time to dry.

Admire how your “mood” is established in this mixed-media self-portrait.  You may also notice the element of texture that appears as the crayon/oil pastel repels through the watercolor paint.


Prepare a series of monochromatic portraits presented in an assortment of colors.