DEN Project

Take One Picture Resource Pack

Looking at and responding to an artwork, be it a painting or sculpture, is much more enriching, stimulating, and thought provoking when done so with other people.  The rewards of productive discussion, whereby thoughts and viewpoints that incorporate a wide range of cultural contexts and upbringings are shared, can result in fascinating gems of observation, which could only have been achieved through the combined efforts of the group.  Allowing time for discussion before embarking on a project also allows time for children to forge connections with the art and so become personally involved.

Here are some potential questions to consider:

Discuss initial reactions to the artwork; does it remind anyone of anything they’ve seen before?  Do they like or dislike it? (These questions could be re-visited at the end of the discussion to see if, as a consequence of further analysis, their views have changed).

  • Ask students to list descriptively what they see in the painting; seemingly simple questions can lead the group into more complex levels of understanding.
  • Although paintings are ‘silent’, if there was also a volume level attached to the scenes depicted, the viewer would probably hear many different sounds.  In The Banquet, music is being played.  If children have been to the Goose Fair themselves, they would know that if they were to step into the painting Nottingham Goose Fair it would be far from silent.  What sounds can the children ‘hear’?
  • Discuss the size of the painting: why has the artist chosen this particular size?  How does the size affect the overall impact?  Contrast the dimensions of The Banquet with those of Winter Scene; does the size change the meaning?
  • Only tell the students the title of the painting after a period of discussion.  Ask the students if the title changes their opinion the artwork.
  • Research the lives of the artists.  For example, Klaes Molenaer, who painted Winter Scene, was working in a society whereby art was bought by people with different degrees of wealth and was often sold at local markets.  Contrast this with Siberechts, painter of Nottingham From The East, who worked in a more common Western tradition of being commissioned by a wealthy landowner.  What does the way that the artists were funded say about the societies that they were working in? 


More practical ways of interacting with an artwork:

  • Use different techniques to make a record of initial responses; sketching, note taking, sound recording or taking photographs.
  • Choose a painting to look at and highlight some of the objects that appear in the painting.  Place your own versions of the objects into a feely bag. 
  • Ask the children to place their hands into the feely bag and ask them to describe the object by feeling alone, or draw the object by feeling alone.
  • Play a memory association game based on looking at the artwork.
  • In pairs, ask pupils to choose five words to describe an artwork of their choice. The rest of the group then guess which work has been described.
  • Use or make viewfinders to select and concentrate on one section of an artwork.  Discuss the colours, shapes and textures that they discover.

·     Ask the children to work in pairs, with one child describing the artwork while the other child draws their interpretation from the partner’s description alone.


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