July 6th was Frida Kahlo’s birthday.  She is one of the most prolific female artists from Mexico. She’s known for her self-portraits that told stories of her pain, passion and her voice for women as well as indigenous rights. Her work is strongly influenced by her life full of illness and a terrible accident that broke many bones including her spinal cord.

Her paintings are full of dramatic symbolism and bold colours. Parents should be advised to view her work beforehand as a couple of paintings may be too strong for younger children.

Take a look at her work, talk about the bold colours, the objects that could be seen and what the story might be. It’s important to know her life story of her love, pain and political influences. There are some great videos on YouTube, even a movie on her life. Let’s paint a self-portrait in Kahlo’s style.

Let’s paint a self-portrait in Kahlo’s style.


  • Sketchbook, we used one that had heavier paper
  • Dr. Ph. Martens, Bombay Set – India Ink
  • Cupcake liners
  • Coffee filters
  • Oil pastels – we used a child set, could also use wax crayons
  • Heat gun – there are low heat versions available


Start with painting the cupcake liners and coffee filters to allow time to dry.  In fact, this project could be a two-part activity as there are many ways to colour them. For example, markers could be used instead on half of the filter and then fold and wet thoroughly. Today, we used ink to paint our filters. They were fun as there’s no wrong way to do them.

Next, it’s time to draw the self-portrait. The video shows a time-lapse of this process using oil pastels. Use a mirror to see yourself. Don’t colour everything in, this is where watercolour or ink could be used. This technique is called wax resist.

If you can, draw in some things that are important in your life. Tell a story with these objects. It’s great to look back like reading a diary.


Once your portrait is drawn and painted as well as dried. It’s time to glue the coffee filters and liners too. Scrunch them up to resemble a flower then use a glue gun to affix to the painting. It’s best to use a glue gun as there is wax on the paper so white glue wouldn’t be as effective.


Our in-house artist can tailor this activity for an event suitable for all ages. Contact us today.

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