Art Workshop For Children: Self-Portraits

Let me introduce you to my favorite new book about process art and Reggio-inspired learning. Friends, meet Art Workshop For Children. Art Workshop For Children, please meet my friends. I’m sure you guys will get along really well.

Art Workshop for Children, by Barbara Rucci and Betsy McKenna, is a breathtaking book (the photos literally made me gasp when I first flipped through the pages) filled with unique process-based art activities for kids and tips on how to prepare your art space for creative exploration. I especially love the thoughtful reflections woven throughout the book by Reggio-inspired educator, Betsy McKenna, on how to raise creative thinkers and why this is important for all children.

(note: I received a free review copy of Art Workshop For Children, but all opinions expressed are my own. I truly adore this book. This post contains affiliate links, thanks for your support!)


(Photo Credit: Barbara Rucci)

You may know Barbara Rucci already from her beautiful and inspiring blog, Art Bar. I have been a fan and friend of Bar for a few years and am continuously in awe of the beauty in everything she does. She is an incredibly warm and friendly person, a talented graphic designer, and an art teacher that brings out the most joyful work in her young students. This book is truly a must-have for anyone interested in exploring process-based art with young kids. Even if you have no experience with art, Bar will show you that all you need are a few materials and the willingness to step back and enjoy the process.

*I’m giving away a copy of Art Workshop For Children at the end of the post!


Many of the projects in Art Workshop For Children are geared towards kids ages 3-6, although process art can be enjoyed by any age. Since Karuna (age 8) has been into drawing lately, I decided to try the Self-Portrait workshop for this review.


Watercolor Paper (I created a frame around the edge of the paper using painter’s tape, another tip from the book!)

Black Permanent Marker



Cup of water & towel for cleaning the brush

Karuna (8 yrs) likes to draw with pencil so I included pencils as well, along with a small standing mirror and a photo of each of my girls to observe their facial features.


I love that Bar encourages us to ask the question, “how does it feel to be you?” when kids are drawing their self-portraits. This helps them learn to express emotion in their work.

My girls chose to draw with pencil first, but with younger kids I would suggest following the book instructions and offering only a black marker. This way they won’t get tripped up on erasing and having to draw over their pencil lines. I would normally have given Ora (4 yrs old) a marker to start, but of course she wants to do what her big sis does! I was surprised at how much detail she was able to include when using a pencil. So for experienced youngsters, there is something to say about starting with pencil. Ora also requested colored Sharpies, which aren’t as bold as the black markers, but still show through the watercolor nicely when finished.


After drawing their outlines, I brought out watercolor paint for the next step.


The project could have ended here, but Bar includes a section in each workshop with “variations for next time.” One of the variations is to try this same project with collage materials and glue. Rather than do a second project, I decided to expand on what they had already done and offer collage materials to add on top of the paintings.


With this plan in mind ahead of time, I had already set up a tray with colorful paper, sequins, beads, buttons, yarn, craft flowers, scissors and glue. I offered the tray to the girls to invite them to embellish their work. Ora decided to use the materials to add jewelry and a hairpiece to her self-portrait. Karuna played around with a few beads on her painting, but ultimately decided against it. Her art tends to be very minimal and it’s really cool to see this reflected in her choices for her self-portrait.


Both girls loved the process of this project and were incredibly proud of their finished work!



If you’re curious to see more of Art Workshop For Children, check out this video that Bar made:


If you want a chance to win a free copy of Art Workshop For Children, simply leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy of the book. I’ll draw a random winner on November 16th at 8:00 pm PST (for US residents over age 18). Update: The winner is Linda!

If you can’t wait until then, I don’t blame you! Just pick up a copy here or ask your local bookstore.














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  • Trisha November 10, 2016  

    This book looks beautiful and helpful!

    • Megan Schiller November 10, 2016  

      It is Trisha! Good luck in the giveaway :)

  • eileen quinn November 10, 2016  

    I LOVE these self portraits! I am an artist (more textiles) and a mom of 2 girls too. I have been following the art bar blog for a couple years now – she is amazing. I have been seriously considering getting my teaching certificate so I can teach art full time. As it is now I volunteer once a week in my kids classrooms as the art mom so I am always scouring for new ideas and inspriration. Thanks so much for sharing!!

    • Megan Schiller November 10, 2016  

      That’s awesome, Eileen. You can also do what Bar does (and what I used to do) and teach small classes out of your home or community space. It allows for so much flexibility and is such a rewarding experience. But we also need great art teachers in school, so that’s wonderful that you’re considering it!!

  • Angela November 10, 2016  

    This is great! I’d love to win a copy!

    • Megan Schiller November 13, 2016  

      Good luck! :)

  • Jen Curtis November 10, 2016  

    The self portraits are lovely! I would love to try that out with my girl. I enjoy reading your blog and always walk away inspired. The book looks amazing. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

    • Megan Schiller November 13, 2016  

      You’re welcome, Jen! Thanks for your sweet comment.

  • Erin Myers November 11, 2016  

    I am in love with this book already♡
    I’m a painter myself and I teach art to individual students, mainly children.
    I want this book to be a part of my collection!
    Love it so much!

    • Megan Schiller November 13, 2016  

      It’s so great, it would be super helpful for your work with young students :)

  • taliastravelblog November 13, 2016  

    So cute – I would love a copy.

  • Nancy November 14, 2016  

    This would be a fun and helpful book to read, use, and own.

  • Boomer Dell November 14, 2016  

    How exciting! Book looks great.

  • Szkent November 14, 2016  

    This will come in handy when my kids are on holiday break!

  • Denice Meredith November 14, 2016  

    I would LOVE to have a copy for our school Library. We are a small rural school in East Texas. Teacher-Art resources are scarce here.

  • Eva November 14, 2016  

    WoW this book looks very Nice!

  • Aparna November 14, 2016  

    This book looks awesome! I’m currently reorganizing the kids art area to allow more independence in showcasing their creativity. Any ideas are always helpful in achieving this goal!:)

  • Ashley damaske November 14, 2016  

    As a Reggio prek teacher (first year!) I always love to get these updates. This book would be really handy *wink wink*

  • Jennifer November 14, 2016  

    The books looks amazing – I’m so excited to read it!

  • Haania November 14, 2016  

    This book looks so fun!

  • Ann November 14, 2016  

    I am so grateful for all that I have learned from you! I also love Bar Rucci & I would be thrilled if I won this! Either way, thanks for sharing your knowledge. I have always loved art, but with a few years of some health challenges & some challenging situations, I felt like my creativity was all dried up. I have been inspired by you & have been bringing that joy of creativity back into my home & encouraging it in my children. Thank you for sharing your gift!

    • Megan Schiller November 14, 2016  

      Thanks so much for sharing that, Ann. I’m so happy to have helped inspire you to bring more creativity back into your home.

    • Megan Schiller December 1, 2016  

      That’s sweet, Ann. I’m so honored to have been a part of your inspiration and creative renewal. Best wishes to you!

  • Roxy November 14, 2016  

    Oh! We would love to have a copy of this book! What a treasure trove of ideas!

  • Cheryl Jones November 14, 2016  

    I am in no way a trained artist but do love creating. My 3 children are natural born artists and can spend hours drawing, painting, cutting and gluing. I would love to start some “art play dates” since we have a designated room in our house for art. Do you have any ideas on where or how to start? Or should I just roll up my sleeves and go for it?

    • Megan Schiller November 14, 2016  

      Hi Cheryl, I think it’s so great that you want to start some intentional art play dates. My advice to you really depends on whether you want to charge for this experience (like a class) or whether it will be an informal get together of friends doing art. Jean Van’t Hul from The Artful Parent actually wrote a post with great advice on how to start an art group in 2008. Although it was written 8 years ago, it still has a lot of relevant information and will hopefully answer a lot of your questions. I started art groups out of my home almost 7 years ago after reading that post! Feel free to email me with questions as you go. Here is the link to Jean’s post:

  • Kelly November 14, 2016  

    I am always looking for new art projects to share with my Girl Scout troop and this book would be perfect! I try to encourage them to express themselves as individuals and I will plan to add this self-portrait project to an upcoming meeting. Thanks for this!

  • Yuliya November 14, 2016  

    Hi Megan, I love your blog, so inspiring and helpful, and I would be happy to win a copy of this book!

  • Linda Young-Morgan November 14, 2016  

    I NEED this book Megan!

  • Renee November 14, 2016  

    Love the self portrait idea and so many others. I would love to put this book to work at our home.

  • Lesley Nixon November 14, 2016  

    Turn off the devices & gather the art materials! Love it!

  • Cass November 14, 2016  

    What a lovely book! Thanks for sharing the photos of your daughters going through the process – looks super fun. I would love to win a copy!

  • Julie Hatcher November 14, 2016  

    So inspiring! I have always been challenged with creativity but have 2 daughters who thrive from it. This can help me find ways to express ourselves and have have fun!

  • Sarah November 14, 2016  

    This is just the kind of book I’ve been looking for to help me engage my kids in some art projects. I would love to win a copy! Thank you for your blog–it is always inspiring.

  • Amy Pignatella Cain November 14, 2016  

    I’d love to win a copy of this book! It looks beautiful, and I’ve been trying to do more artwork with my little guy. He’s an aspiring artist, who is very creative and draws far better than I ever could at his young age. He has an art teacher who is very encouraging, too, which I, unfortunately didn’t have. I just love watching him create! Thank you!

  • Julie Haldeman November 14, 2016  

    I would love a copy of this book for my kiddos!

  • Danielle Velazquez November 14, 2016  

    This book looks amazing!

  • kim November 14, 2016  

    Looks like a wonderful book for our homeschool!

  • Sarah West November 14, 2016  

    I teach in a Reggio-inspired preschool, I’ve done a similar self-portrait activity. I’m interested in seeing what else this book has inside!!!

  • Cara November 14, 2016  

    We are considering starting a homeschool art workshop, and this book would be inspiring! I used to do this portrait project with my third graders and would have them hanging in the classroom all year. We even made class stationery with each child’s portrait. Thanks for this opportunity!

  • Stephanie November 14, 2016  

    We recently set up an art room for our two girls (3 and 7) – who needs a formal dining room, anyway, right?!? I have loved all of the projects I’ve seen shared from this book, and would love a copy for us to try at home.

  • Edith Haenel November 14, 2016  

    Thank you so much for your website! I love doing art with children. It uses such wonderful parts of their brains!

  • Edith Haenel November 14, 2016  

    Thank you for all the work you put into this website. I love doing artwork with children. It uses such a wonderful part of their brains!

  • Mary Etta November 14, 2016  

    Ideas here are great inspiration for “curriculum extensions” of literature, social studies, etc. and facilitating social-emotional learning within educational experiences, ie: growth mindset!

  • Karen November 14, 2016  

    Ooooh!! This book is on my Amazon wish list, so I would LOVE to win a copy!!

  • Chelsey Ettiene November 14, 2016  

    I would LOVE to have this book!!!

  • Tania November 14, 2016  

    Not a US resident so no chance of winning but I must say I love your blog and already have our art material and our “studio” ready to start our projects and you and your girls are a big help so Thanks from Mozambique ;)

    • Megan Schiller December 1, 2016  

      You’re welcome!

  • Gemma November 14, 2016  

    Looks brilliant, love them expressing themselves.

  • Anna~* November 14, 2016  

    Thank you for the giveaway! I could use these wonderful ideas for my art classes at Pathways School –

  • Bernadette November 14, 2016  

    I’ve been eyeing this book and I’d love a copy. Thanks so much for hosting a giveaway!

  • Christy November 14, 2016  

    I would LOVE a copy of this book! Excited to enter the giveaway! :)

  • Michelle November 14, 2016  

    thanks so much. My daughter and I would love this book!

  • Chiska November 14, 2016  

    My daughter watching over my shoulder said “Leave a comment, ’cause I want one of those!” She’s off to work on her self portrait right now. That’s high praise I’m thinking. It does look fantastic.

  • P. Redman November 14, 2016  

    I really hope I win! This looks like a great resource!

  • Roberta November 14, 2016  

    I would love to win a free copy of this gorgeous book! I would share with the preschool teachers and our atelierista at our Reggio Emilia Inspired school , where we love focusing on process art, exploration and expression of ideas thru mixed media. Thank you for the opportunity to enter to win!

  • Katie Venglar November 14, 2016  

    Inspiring once again! I’f love to glean more ideas from this book, for sure!

  • Molly Foster November 14, 2016  

    I love the art and idea sharing with Barb’s book tour. To see the support from fellow art teachers and parents in spreading the good words about this book has been amazing. I feel lucky to have found a like minded and sharing group of teachers and art lovers who are all interconnected. And to see the comments about The Art Workshop for Children book that are so exciting and inspiring makes this book look so appealing. It’s on my wish list!

    • Megan Schiller December 1, 2016  

      Me too, Molly! Thanks for sharing that.

  • Courtney November 14, 2016  

    Thank you for all the great ideas. I own a small preschool and have 2 boys of my own. We love the inspiration we get from your newsletter and website. The book looks awesome, too! Thanks!!

  • Bunny November 14, 2016  

    I work with a group of neighborhood kids who come to our church on Wed nights and recently I’ve purchased the 88cents composition notebooks for them to use as art journals. They paint away and include their memory verse within their work. The only requirement I give them is to cover the whole page – no white with blue lines showing. They’re turning out awesome but I thought I’d take it a step further last week and gave them only the 3 primary colors to use, giving us the chance to talk about mixing colors. They turned out some really neat artwork and were super psyched about making different colors. I could use this book to help me teach them to express themselves. Thanks for the chance to win!

    • Megan Schiller December 1, 2016  

      I love that story, Bunny. Thanks for sharing!

  • Kathy November 14, 2016  

    Looks like this would be a great resource for the brand new “True Colors” art program that I’ve started at our elementary school. Thanks!

  • Angela Lathem-Ballard November 14, 2016  

    Thank you so much for the opportunity! Your site, and the course from Artful Parent, inspired me to change our living room into an art room! Such incredible creating goes on in there, and I look forward to seeing what this book brings to the imagination as well. Thank you for your work!

  • Nechama November 14, 2016  

    Awesome! Can’t wait to see the book when I win it!!! ;)

  • Kim Neeper November 14, 2016  

    I would love to win this book to use in my preschool and with my granddaughter!

  • Leah November 14, 2016  

    I’ve been following Art Bar for awhile now and was so thrilled to hear about her new book. The age range of 3-6 is perfect for art classes I teach at the museum, so I would love some new ideas to try! Thanks for the giveaway.

  • Sarah November 14, 2016  

    Love the space you have created for your girls to do their work. I need to create something similar for my 3 girls… would love to try this self-portrait project with them. It is always amazing how different their art choices will be!

  • Christy Qualin November 14, 2016  

    I am a nanny looking for fresh ideas for young children. This book looks perfect!

  • Jenifer November 14, 2016  

    This looks wonderful! I can definitely use more inspiration in setting up art invitations for my girls.

  • Kris Nyman November 14, 2016  

    I would love to use these ideas with our homeless families. The free form activities lend themselves to our many children and families going through significant changes in their lives. They are an excellent way to let go of the stress these families are experiencing. Thank you so much for sharing your fabulous ideas on you blog. You are a gift to this world.

    • Megan Schiller December 1, 2016  

      Thank you, Kris. I’m just finally able to respond. I’m sorry you didn’t win the giveaway, but I’d be happy to contribute an additional copy for you to use with homeless families. I’ll email you.

  • Karl November 14, 2016  

    Fantastic! Would live this for my kids!

  • Sudhaa November 14, 2016  

    love the article..gave me great ideas

  • Ezreen Anuwar November 14, 2016  

    The book looks great! Crossing my fingers that I’ll win one!

  • Tommie Sue Schindler November 14, 2016  

    I love doing art projects with my granddaughters, so this book looks fabulous.

  • Coonnie Siemonof November 14, 2016  

    I love your site! There are so many ideas and advice to find in each e-mail. Keep it up!!

  • Katy November 14, 2016  

    I would LOVE a copy of this book. I’ve been really enjoying art time with my kids recently.

  • Karen November 14, 2016  

    Your book looks like something we need at my house. Thank you for writing it!

  • Christine November 14, 2016  

    Thanks for sharing! It’s always great to find a new helpful resource. This one looks amazing!

  • Jennifer November 14, 2016  

    Megan, I would love to win this book as I need project ideas badly! I don’t consider myself to be very creative but my two boys and my daughter love art and are always asking what they can make or paint. I need ideas on what they can do and how to teach them as I strive to nurture their creativity. Hoping to win! Thanks for the consideration!

  • Amanda November 14, 2016  

    Wow, this book looks amazing. My daughter is especially in portraits right now :)

  • Anne May November 14, 2016  

    An art workshop in a book! I love that idea ?
    We enjoy spending time together getting creative although
    with busy lives it can sometimes be left behind.
    This would enable us to complete guided activities whenever we liked.

  • Heather Underwood November 14, 2016  

    Can’t wait to read it!

  • Heidi November 14, 2016  

    Love the portraits

  • Kristen November 14, 2016  

    Just what we need this week!

  • Melissa November 14, 2016  

    The book looks like an amazing resource!

  • Treona Bateman November 14, 2016  

    Thanks for all the great suggestions. The book sounds very helpful, I would love a copy.

  • Patty Foglesong November 14, 2016  

    Lovely! We would absolutely love a copy for our family!

  • Jennifer Austin November 14, 2016  

    You are wonderfully generous.

  • Nicole November 14, 2016  

    I am a homeschooling mama of 3 boys!! I try to incorporate art and creative exploration every day in our home!! I stumbled upon your blog and I’m loving the inspiration and photos from this book!! Thanks for the chance to win a copy!!

  • Rebecca November 14, 2016  

    This book looks wonderful! I’d love it for my kids, and for our parent-run art club at their elementary school. My hour with art club last week has been the only time I couldn’t feel my broken heart!

  • Lata November 14, 2016  

    Following your blog has inspired me to bring art home to my kids. Recently I even attended an art camp for educators and am considering getting trained to teach art to school kids. I would be delighted to use this book for my kids.

  • Catie Silman November 14, 2016  

    This book looks amazing.

  • kelly November 14, 2016  

    This book looks great! Would love to have a copy to use with my kids.

  • Karen November 14, 2016  

    Oh what fun! I’d *love* a copy of this book. I’m a high school art teacher with two small boys at home. I aspire to be great at art with my littles but wow, it’s a different game! Always something to be learning :)

  • Courtney Boitano November 14, 2016  

    Can’t wait to try this self portrait with my 3 year old! Loved meeting you on Friday!

  • Andy Richards November 14, 2016  

    What a wonderful project and this book looks like all the eye candy I could ever want ?

  • Mary Jacobs November 14, 2016  

    This would be wonderful for the Art Enrichment class I teach at my daughter’s school!

  • Linda November 14, 2016  

    What a wonderful resource! I love the photos. They are beautiful and so inspiring. I want to make the collage with the boxes right away! I love the pictures of how to organize supplies as well! I love to see children engaged in process art.

  • Sally from Little Hiccups November 14, 2016  

    What a fun project! I’ll have to get my girls to work on self portraits like this too.

    Each Summer we visit Brushstrokes here in Berkeley and the girls paint a self portrait onto a plate. I love the idea of them accruing a little collection of plates with their paintings of themselves over the years. My girls always have fun painting their plates, but as they’ve gotten older I’ve noticed that they’re more critical about their work and making sure it’s perfect, especially Ava who is 9. I think that if they were to create self portraits on paper like this project they would put less pressure on themselves to make sure it’s perfect seeing as it’s not quite so permanent. I’m sure their creativity will shine through in different ways and I look forward to seeing that :)

  • Runa Bianchi November 15, 2016  

    This would be such a great resource to have for my after school kids and my own kids. We are always doing creative things and I’m constantly looking for new ideas. This book looks amazing!

  • Emma November 15, 2016  

    I am an EC art teacher and would dearly love a copy of this beautiful book to share with my students.
    Thank you for your inspiring blog.

  • Shivani November 15, 2016  

    This is amazing! We would love to experiment with self portraits. So inspiring.! Thanks for the opportunity and for sharing ways to make this possible! Much love and light!

  • Samar November 15, 2016  

    Thank you so much for such a wonderful and creative Blog. Looking forward to looking through your book and spending many days creating with the kids.

  • Benedicte November 15, 2016  

    I would love to win this book for my daughters! There are so many wonderful project that we would like to try.

  • Crystal Foth November 15, 2016  

    Lovely projects and what a great book to add to our collection. I love how their projects turned out – adorable!! :)

  • Zehra Alaca November 16, 2016  

    Hi, this book looks awesome. I’ve seen it on couple otherplaces and now that you have given a more detailed info on it I really would love to have a copy to donate to my son’s preschool where the art program desperately needs an update!

  • Kirsten Pfleger November 16, 2016  

    These self portraits are amazing! I can’t wait to try this with my girls

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