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Nate Williams Style Self Portrait

This self portrait art lesson for elementary students mixes very simple profile drawings with a bit of creative writing. It’s inspired by an amazing artist and illustrator, Nate Williams.

self portrait art lessons for elementary students
Nate Williams Self Portrait

Nate Williams is an artist and designer who creates illustrations and hand lettering for magazines, books, packaging and advertising. His clients have included some pretty famous names, like the Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Target, New York Times and Coca Cola.

Nate’s whimsical style of drawing is perfect for young artists to imitate because it is so simple, yet so creative. You can check out more of Nate’s work on his website HERE.

This self portrait project was inspired by Nate’s work, and asks students to draw a simple profile of themselves and fill it with simple descriptive words. Variations of the hair and clothes are encouraged, but the basic idea is to literally fill their head with things that are important to them.

The one tip I would emphasize is that the portraits look best when the letters are as big and varied as they possibly can be. Students can use initial caps, all caps, cursive, any style at all. This is one time when they can break away from all the writing “rules” they usually follow, and try something new.

As a teacher, I would go so far as to give students extra credit for every different lettering style that shows up in their drawing. A lack of emphasis about this will tend to have them go on “auto pilot” when writing, and fill in each area the same way, as if writing on letter paper. It’s not bad, it just means they are treating the project life more of a writing one than an art one, and it make take a bit of work to break free from that.

Preview of step by step tutorial for Nate Williams Portrait

MATERIALS

DIRECTIONS

Time needed: 35 minutes.

How to Draw a Nate Williams Self Style Portrait

  1. GIRL: Draw a large J shape

  2. Add the hair, could be any length

  3. Draw the lips, nose and shoulders.

  4. Add an eye and lines on the face.

  5. Trace with a marker, write things in
    crayon, making sure the FILL the space.

  6. BOY: Draw a large U shape.

  7. Add a hat on top and shoulders below.

  8. Add nose and lips. Draw an eye and
    lines on the face.

  9. Trace with a marker, write things in
    crayon, making sure the FILL the space.
    Paint over all with watercolor paint.

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Student Inspiration

Cards by Maddic, age 5 and Clark, age 6
Self Portrait with markers, crayons and watercolor, by Kayla, grade 4

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