Modigliani face - art project

Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920) was an Italian artist who worked mainly in France. If you are not familiar with this artist he was famous for his paintings of elongated faces with long skinny necks. His drawings were simple and stylized. This is a fun lesson to do with all ages, and I have added the tissue paper background for an extra twist, since the face painting can be a fairly quick project to do.

These are two of Modigliani's portraits-

File:Portrait of dedie.jpg

File:Amedeo Modigliani - Jeanne Hebuterne in Red Shawl.jpg


watercolor paper
bleeding art tissue paper

I begin this lesson by showing some of Modigliani's portraits. I talk about the long skinny faces and necks, and the almond shaped eyes,simple nose, and small rosebud lips. Starting with a big skinny U shape,  I have the students practice a simple face drawing in this style following my steps as I do it on a white board. For fun I have them do simple curly lines for the hair. If I have already done a portrait lesson with them I point out the difference between a more realistic portrait; the shape and size of the features, and the placement of them compared to Modigliani's faces.

Next I have them do a large drawing of the face on the watercolor paper, filling up most of the space. After they have done it in pencil, I have them go over all the lines with Sharpie. Then we watercolor the faces. I let them have some freedom with the hair, making it two tone if they want, and just painting it loosely around their Sharpie lines.

After they have done the painting part then we use small pieces of tissue paper to fill in the background putting water under and over each piece with a brush and overlapping them. When the tissue dries we pull that off, and you end up with a textured looking background.


  1. I absolutely love these water colour portraits. Last year I also did Modigliani with my Year 3 students. We used vibrant oil pastels. The students really enjoyed the activity and they looked great. I will definitely try this activity. Thank you and by the way, I love your blog, it looks great! Anna:)


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