Sharing Art
Western Reserve Public Media
Pop Art Project


Regional Artists: Chris Yambar, Youngstown
Featured Museum: Canton Museum of Art
Featured Artist: Andy Warhol
Featured Work of Art: "Liz"
Featured Teacher: Susan Griffin, Southington Local Schools

Lesson Overview:
This activity combines art and computer technology to create exciting self portraits.  After an introduction to the history of Pop Art and the work of Andy Warhol, students are introduced to contemporary Pop Artist Chris Yambar. Students experiment with color and paint before creating their portraits on an unusual “canvas.”


Video Synopsis

Pop Artist Chris Yambar uses photographs, copy machines, transparencies, glass, acrylic paints and spray paints for his tools. He applies the techniques of reverse painting, blotting and scratching to produce his art. The school project uses the computer lab and techniques similar to Yambar’s to make student portraits.



Students will:

  • look at and discuss Pop Art in its historical context as well as its current application.

  • be able to identify works as representative of the Pop Art style.

  • interpret Pop Art in an individual way to produce self-portraits

  • incorporate computer technology as part of the art-making process.

  • understand and apply various color harmonies.

  • understand and apply principles of balance and emphasis.

  • experiment with a variety of paint applications including reverse painting and resist.



  • Pop Art

  • Color harmonies:  warm/cool, monochromatic, tint, shade, complements, analogous

  • Reverse painting

  • Resist

  • Balance and emphasis

  • Self-portrait



  • Transparency film for ink jet printer or transparency film for copy machines

  • 8.5" x 11" (.100-inch thick) plexiglass

  • Painter markers, various colors

  • China markers, various colors

  • Acrylic paints, various colors including several bright colors and extra black

  • Paint brushes, various sizes

  • Water containers

  • Double -sided tape

  • Colored tape

  • Various tools for "scratching" through layers of paint


Optional materials

  • Dimensional fabric paints, various colors

  • Rhinestones

  • Quick-dry tacky glue




In the Computer Lab

Preparing transparency film, students will:

  • team up with a partner and use a digital camera to take one another’s picture. Have students stand in front of a simple background like the projector screen and make sure the face fills the frame.

  • use Adobe PhotoShop (or similar program) to change the color picture to a black-and-white picture.


Remember to save your work!

  • Print two copies of the black-and-white picture on white paper.

  • Print one copy on transparency film OR make a copy on transparency film using a copy machine.


In the Classroom

  • Review the basic concepts behind the Pop Art movement and the work of artist Andy Warhol, emphasizing his use of color in portraits.

  • Have the class discuss the following question: Do artists still work in a Pop Art style?


Show the Sharing Art video, “Pop Art.”

  • Discuss the video:

    Does Chris Yambar’s work meet the criteria of Pop Art?

  • How does he apply his paint and experiment with its application?

  •  Review the following color harmonies:


    monochromatic (tints and shades)

  • analogous

  • Have students experiment with color on the paper copies of their portraits.

    Use common art room supplies (markers, colored pencils, crayons, watercolors) to experiment with different color combinations.  Students can also experiment with “resist” techniques and other medium combinations.

    The objective is to make a color “plan” for the final composition. Let students find out they need to balance simple and complex areas.

  • Discuss balance and emphasis.

  • Explain and demonstrate reverse painting. Students will begin applying color to the transparency film. They should do the small details of the face first (as they observed during the Yambar video). Students should feel free to apply the color with brushes and acrylic paint, painter markers or china markers. Continue painting until the face, hair and perhaps clothing are complete. Students must decide how much of the portrait they want to complete on the transparency film. The student will not be able to “scratch”  through anything painted on the transparency film as it will covered by the plexiglass in the next step.


  • Adhere the transparency film to the plexiglass using double stick tape.*  Explain and demonstrate how to use double stick tape. The tape will be much less noticeable after paint has been applied to the back of the plexiglass. *We do not recommend spray adhesive because of ventilation concerns.

  • Apply color to the back of the plexiglass. Review the techniques Chris Yambar uses in the video. Encourage students to experiment with the scratching tools. Be expressive! Different tools make different marks.  Anything a student does not like can be painted out! Feel free to use painter and china markers as well as acrylic paint.

  • If students elect to write words into the project at this point, they must remember to write backwards as they are working on the back of the plexiglass. If writing backwards is too difficult or if they are not sure they want to add words yet, students can always add the words to the surface of the transparency film later.  This is also a good time to stress balance and emphasis.

  • Seal the back of the plexiglass with several coats of black acrylic paint.  Allow the paint to dry completely before going on.

  • Students can elect to add more detail to the surface of the transparency film. Dimensional fabric paint can emphasize important lines or edges.  Rhinestones secured with tacky glue can also accent jewelry or put sparkle in an eye. A word of caution: students can get carried away easily!



  • Add colored tapes to the edges to finish the project. If the tape does not stick, use tacky glue or hot glue to secure.



Lower Grade Level Project

  • Complete this activity on the paper copies only. Use one copy to practice and experiment. Use the other for the final composition. It is easy to print more copies of the picture if they are needed.

  • You can expand this activity by dividing the final composition into quadrants and have the students use specific color harmonies in each quadrant.

  • You can use a copy machine to shrink the image and fit several on one piece of paper to create a tiled composition a la Warhol.


Higher Grade Level Project

Add more compositional requirements to this activity. Use larger plexiglass and give the students more area to work in. They can tape the transparency to any part of the plexiglass. They can also incorporate scanned images into the composition.

  • Use the Internet to research events that occurred on the day the student was born. This can be expanded to find out what happened in the course of history on that day. Have them add these “headlines” to the composition. Make sure they indicate the date. Use Adobe PhotoShop’s font capabilities to add to the composition or add the “headlines” freehand later.

  • Create family portraits using scanned photos. Don’t forget the family pets!

  • Use several images of the student in the same composition. The students could strike different poses or use different expressions. Composition can be tiled or more asymmetrical. Use color to enhance the mood of the pose or expression.



Use a list of criteria developed together with the class. This should be done before the project is started. Assess students on how well they meet the established criteria. Here are some suggestions:

  • Use of color

  • Successful reverse painting

  • Effective use of balance and emphasis

  • Craftsmanship

  • Effective use of media

  • Effective use of expressive “scratching”