National Gallery at Home: Self-Portraits

We are delighted to offer a special portrait-themed workshop as part of a series of step-by-step creative activity videos for families with children of all ages.

Self Portraits

What makes you you?

A self-portrait is a portrait that an artist makes of themselves. An artist can use a self-portrait to show things about their personality. Sometimes, they include objects that are special to them or put themselves in a place that is important to them. 

Take a look at some of the self-portraits in the Gallery's collection and then let’s make our own self-portraits!


The Gallery at Home

Make your own self-portrait



  • A piece of white paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Drawing pencil
  • Colouring pencils or crayons
  • Coloured paper or scrap paper
  • Wool or string


  1. Draw your head, neck and shoulders. You can use a mirror, or a photo of yourself, or just use your imagination!
  2. Next, draw your eyes, eyebrows, nose, mouth and ears.
  3. Colour in your face and neck using colours, collage or a mix of both. 
  4. You could look at the shadows and light on your face and try to colour it in.
  5. Add in glasses if you wear them. You could draw them on coloured paper and cut them out.
  6. Then, add your hair. You could use colours, paper or wool. If you are using wool or string, put the glue on the paper first and then stick your wool on to the page one strand at a time. 
  7. Next colour in your clothes. You could also add in a hat or hair accessories, if you like.
  8. Take a look at Helen Mabel Trevor's self-portrait and Hilda Van Stockum's self-portrait. See how they included artist palettes to show that they are artists?
  9. Think about an object that is special to you that you would like to add in: a favourite toy, a musical instrument, or art materials?
  10. Now it’s time to think about the background. Where would you like to be? You can go anywhere you like!
  11. Add in any extra details that you like to finish off your portrait.
  12. You could also try it using just collage or drawing.

This activity was devised by artist Louise McGrath, inspired by the Zurich Portrait Prize and Zurich Young Portrait Prize

About The Gallery at Home videos: Inspired by works in our collection and exhibitions, these National Gallery at Home workshops take the place of our on-site workshops which would normally happen in our Maples Group Creative Space. These workshops encourage families to work together to create their own artworks. They are specially produced videos for babies, older children and for those who require sensory input. You can find all the workshops in this series here. Enjoy!