Learn how to draw like Modigliani and make an elegant and elongated self portrait. The exaggeration is half the fun!
Amedeo Modigliani was an Italian Jewish painter who lived in France in the early 1900s. He is perhaps best known for his portraits that had a surreal elongation of faces and necks. The oddly graceful and haunting paintings were not very well received in their day, but in time have actually become highly acclaimed (and valuable!) masterpieces.
This project asks students to divide a narrow sheet of paper into four equal sections, and then follow a formula for drawing a head, neck and shoulders. By using the creases as guides, they are forced to create a VERY stretched out look for themselves, which can be applied to their features as well.
It’s a fun and easy way to get a very creative look, and in my experience has always seemed to really free students up. The tendency to want to draw “perfect” versions of themselves seems to disappear, which allows for a whole bunch of creativity and personality to creep in.
TIP: Use the beginning of class to remind students how facial proportion rules usually work, before they start this project which totally breaks them.
- How to Draw a Modigliani Self Portrait (click to download a PDF)
- Drawing paper
- Black marker
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to Draw a Modigliani Self Portrait
- Example of standard face proportions for comparison.
- Cut 24″ x 18″ paper to 8″ x 18″ panels. Fold paper to make grid lines. Draw an oval and add a long neck.
- Draw a shirt line and shoulders.
- Add eyes a little higher than normal, and mouth a little lower. Draw two ears.
- Draw a nose that is stretched to fill the space. Add hair around the oval head. Erase top oval line.
- Hair options: A solution for drawing short and curly hair. Modify to match your own hair style.
- Trace with a marker and color. Press hard until you no longer see any white on the paper.
- A dark color palette will look the most like Modigliani’s paintings.