National Gallery at Home: Self-Portraits

Follow this simple step-by-step activity to make your own colourful self-portrait full of secret clues about your personality and hobbies.

You'll find all the materials and instructions listed below. Let's get started!

Watch the video

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The Gallery at Home

Make your own self-portrait


Materials and instructions

You will need:

  • 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.

Share your artwork!

Would you like to see your artwork featured on the Gallery's website? Take a photo of your artwork and send it to us by email ([email protected]) or using this online form to upload your picture. We'll feature a selection of pictures in the Creative Challenge Gallery, so check back to see if yours is included!

Upload a picture of your artwork using this form


Inspired by ...

A painted self-portrait of a grey-haired woman, dressed in a purple dress and black broad-brimmed hat, seated outdoors and holding a palette.
Hilda Geralda van Stockum (1908-2006), Self-Portrait in a Black Hat, 1988. © Courtesy of the Estate of Hilda van Stockum Marlin. Photo © National Gallery of IrelandCredit

What makes you you?

A self-portrait is a portrait that an artist makes of themselves. Sometimes an artist includes clues about their personality in their self-portrait - they might include objects that are special to them or put themselves in a place that is important to them. 

Take a look at some more self-portraits in the Gallery's collection.



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


About our Gallery at Home videos:

Inspired by works in our collection and exhibitions, our creative activities 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!

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