I have used the upside down drawing exercise to start portrait drawings and
have been very happy with the results.
Another thing I have done is be very serious when the class comes in and
announce that the class is about to take a district wide drawing assessment
test. I lay it on thick about how important this text is and then pass out
fine markers and papers. I tell the kids that they are getting markers
because they are not allowed to erase on the test.
Then I go into how there can be absolutely no cheating on the test or
ELSE!!!!! I tell them that this test is so strict they are not to look at
their neighbors paper and CANNOT even look at their own paper.
Then I have the students do blind contour portraits of the person opposite
them. Usually I have 4 students per table and they switch seats and everyone
does a blind contour drawing of the people at their table. We all have a good
laugh and I let them know that it wasn't really a test.
This loosens them up for their self-portrait drawings.