de Youngsters Open Studio: Powerful Portraits

By Andrea McCoy Harvey, artist and art teacher

December 18, 2020

De Youngsters Powerful Portraits

Create a portrait inspired by Andrea McCoy Harvey’s Afro Goddess (2020), included in The de Young Open exhibition. Learn about proportions and art vocabulary to describe the process.


Large sheet of paper

Questions to Consider

  • Whom do you want to make a portrait of? 
  • What details will you include about that person?


When you are drawing the human head, it is helpful to visualize these proportions in the following manner: 

  1. The human head is egg-shaped. Divide the head shape lengthwise in equal halves, with a center line drawn from the crown to chin. 
  2. The guidelines for the eyes sit halfway the length of the egg-shaped head. The width of the egg-shaped head should fit five eye widths. 
  3. The length of the nose is half the length from the eyeline to the base of the chin. The width of the base of the nose measures the width of one eye. 
  4. The mouth line should measure half the length from the bottom of the nose to the chin. The outermost points of the mouth align with the centers of the eye sockets. The upper lip is shaped like a flattened, extended M. And the lower lip is an extended W. 
  5. The ears lie within the two guidelines on either side of the eyelines to the base of the nose. The outer contour of the ear is formed like a C. Wider at the top and narrow at the base. 
  6. Complete the remaining details, eyebrow, eyes detail, hairline, hairstyle, hair texture, eyeglasses, etc. Use shading and blending to complete these details.


After creating your portrait, consider the following questions: 

  • What steps did you enjoy during the process?
  • What challenges did you experience?
  • If you could do this project all over again, what would you do differently? The same? Why?


We would love to see what you create! Email pictures of your artwork to or tag us on any social platform with #deyoungsters and #thedeyoungopen

Learn more about Andrea McCoy Harvey and her artwork.

Artist Biography

Andrea McCoy Harvey is a 48-year-old native of Little Rock, Arkansas, by way of Tracy, California. She is a mother of four children ages 27, 22, 19, and 18. Harvey received her formal art training at the University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff, an HBCU with a bachelor's degree in art education. She has graduate units toward her degree in fine arts at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. Andrea is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority and a public-school art teacher for Emery Unified School District, where she teaches elementary-school art. Harvey’s art-teaching experience has been her primary career for over 23 years. She has taught grades K–12.

Harvey is an emerging new artist whose portrait series delivers a commanding statement for women of color and women’s empowerment.

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