Andy Warhol-inspired: Pop Art portraits

I recently started teaching art classes again and it feels so good! It is a privilege to guide a young person through the creative process. I’ve loved art ever since I was a small child. I can remember being in preschool when I was very, very young and when everyone ran over to grab a red tricycle, the canvas and paintbrushes set up on tiny easels on the blacktop would call out to me. I remember that pull and I was only around four years old at the time.

In my opinion, every child is an artist. Some just need a little encouragement to let their inner artist come out and play.

Inspired by my rad Campbell Soup Limited Edition Andy Warhol soup cans from Target marking the 50th anniversary of Warhol’s iconic artwork,  I decided to create a Pop Art-inspired project for my students.

My lovely cans that are awaiting a shadow box so they can be displayed.

I’ve worked on this Pop Art project before, with a group of middle-schoolers back in 2009. Wow, time flies when you’re having fun. Since I was working with a younger age group (kinder through fourth grade), I thought I would do as much preparation work before we got down to painting.

What you’ll need:

  • Liquitex Matte Medium (Mod Podge or Collage Pauge would work, too. Just make sure it’s matte)
  • Paint brushes
  • Watercolor paper
  • paint palette (inexpensive paper plates are perfect in this capacity)
  • water dish
  • paper towels and/or paint rag
  • Acrylic paint
  • Black and white inkjet printed copy of your portrait of choice

What I did to prepare the kids’s photos was I went in and chose a really good portrait style shot. Then I opened it in Photoshop and posterized it, playing with the contrast until it had that “Pop Art” look to it. I created a grid, which gave me four images. You may just want one image, maybe you want three–it’s totally up to you. The goal is to have something that looks like Warhol’s silkscreen prints.


Once you get your image the way you want it to look, print it out. Laser printers work best because the ink doesn’t bleed once you stroke the matte medium on top of it. I brushed the Matte Medium on the back of the print because it will act like a glue. Make sure it’s positioned straight and put it on top of the watercolor paper. Smooth out any air bubbles–make sure it’s nice and smooth. A brayer works great on this project. Once you’ve done that step, you are ready to brush the Matte Medium over the top of the print, too.

 See how some of the ink is coming off? Don’t sweat it. It’ll all be painted over anyway.

After my little group sat down at the table, we talked about Andy Warhol, his art, we looked through some of my Modern Art books (with all the nekkid paintings folded in so it wouldn’t corrupt their young minds), and they oohed and aahed over my cool soup cans from Target.

Then they got started painting. Their choice of paint is totally up to you. Tempera paint works well but acrylic paint will be the most vibrant. I like to use inexpensive craft paint for these type of projects, They come in so many cool colors and they only cost a dollar and some change. Much easier on the wallet than artist grade acrylic paints.

Be sure they paint their background, using different colors for each square. They may or may not have taken my advice.

Miss Xixi and her fellow artistes.

Xixi’s finished piece. I love that she made each square unique from the others. Those red eyes are creeping me out.

I totally want some green glasses IRL.

It was really fun to revisit this project. Now that I’m teaching art to kids once again, I’ll be resurrecting some of the projects from Modern Art 4 Kids, with a tweak here and there.

Hope you have fun making this cool project!

Shares 0
Andy Warhol-inspired: Pop Art portraits

My son the artist

Andy Warhol-inspired: Pop Art portraits

Art is a form of worship

Newer post

There are 3 comments

  1. Natalie R.

    Would it be lame if I just pretty much start copying off your life? Not a a SWF kind of copy, just stealing your ideas and letting my kids think I am the genius? No?

Post a comment