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Explore and celebrate the layers of Motherhood through this portrait-making activity. This activity is adaptable for beginners to experts, and involves tracing and cutting. This could be a gift for a Mother-figure, a fun activity to work on together, or a reflective art-making activity for anyone who wants to celebrate Motherhood.

Art making supplies including scissors, an assortment of scrap paper and a brown plastic bag.

You will need:

  • 2 pieces of white paper
  • Pencil
  • Black marker or sharpie
  • A digital or printed photograph of a Mother-figure or a device to take a photo
  • Found paper and materials to collage with
  • Scissors
  • Glue or tape

1. Choose or take a photo of your Mother-figure. (Can be a digital or printed image.)

2.   Write + reflect.

On a piece of paper, spend some time writing and reflecting on your Mother-figure using these prompts.

  • Describe a memory of a time spent together.
  • How have they helped you, and what are you most grateful for?
  • What is unique about your relationship with them?
  • If this person is no longer with you, what message do you want to share with them?

A pencil in hand with the words

3. Trace + cut.

Trace facial features in your photo: the outline of the face, eyes, nose, mouth, hair/ head accessory. Use a sunlit window or device screen to carefully trace onto a piece of paper. Be gentle here and use a dull pencil! Next, go over all lines with a thick black marker, and cut along the outside edge of the people. This will become your template.

A hand with a sharpie marker over a line drawing of two smiling figures.

A hand holding up a cut-out silhouette of a line drawing of two smiling figures.

4. Using your template.

Cut out face shapes to create individual templates, then trace onto collage materials to make textured and colorful portrait elements. For example, trace your hair template onto purple paper to make purple hair.

Cutouts of shapes that makes one smiling figure when put together.

Cut-out shape of a hat over a lattice patterned background.

5.  Collage!

Collect materials that represent your Mother-figure, like fabric scraps, or paper maps! Using these materials, your handwritten reflection, and face templates, cut pieces and play around with interesting compositions. Create your own background! Tape or glue your pieces onto your background. Sign and date your artwork.

Four images presenting cut-out shapes of two smiling figures in various prints, pattern, and colored outfits.

This lesson was developed by Brooke Scibelli, Family and Art Lab Programs Coordinator