You can find out more about The Superpower of Looking including introductory films, teacher guidance and SEND/ASN approach on the Superpower homepage.
Art and design - Evaluate and analyse creative works using the language of art, craft and design - Know about great artists, craft makers and designers, and understand the historical and cultural development of their art forms - Produce creative work, exploring their ideas and recording their experiences - Become proficient in drawing, painting, sculpture and other art, craft and design techniques
Art and design - Look at and talk about the work of artists, designers and craftsworkers from their own and other cultures; appreciate methods used in the resource materials and use their appreciation to stimulate personal ideas and engage with informed art making - Develop their understanding of the visual elements of colour, tone, line, shape, form, space, texture and pattern to communicate their ideas - Evaluate their own and others’ work and how it was made, explain and share their ideas, discuss difficulties and review and modify work to find solutions
Art and design - I can create and present work that shows developing skill in using the visual elements and concepts (EXA 2-03a) - Through observing and recording from my experiences across the curriculum, I can create images and objects which show my awareness and recognition of detail (EXA 2-04a) - Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through activities within art and design (EXA 2-05a) - I can respond to the work of artists and designers by discussing my thoughts and feelings. I can give and accept constructive comment on my own and others' work (EXA 2-07a)
Art and design - Describe and make comparisons between their own work and that of others - Experiment with and examine the methods used by other artists from different periods, places and cultures - Evaluate the methods and results of their own work and that of their fellow pupils - Pupils should be stimulated and inspired by: other artists; methods and processes; media; styles; ideas - Explore, experiment with and apply the elements of the visual, tactile and sensory language of art, craft and design which include: line, tone, colour, pattern, texture, shape and form
Exploring the expressive arts is essential to developing artistic skills and knowledge and it enables learners to become curious and creative individuals.
Progression step 3:
– I can explore the effects that a range of creative techniques, materials, processes, resources, tools and technologies have on my own and others' creative work.
– I can explore how creative work can represent, document, share and celebrate personal, social and cultural identities.
– I can explore and describe how artists and creative work communicate mood, feelings and ideas and the impact they have on an audience.
Responding and reflecting, both as artist and audience, is a fundamental part of learning in the expressive arts.
Progression step 3:
– I can give and consider constructive feedback about my own creative work and that of others, reflecting on it and making improvements where necessary.
– I can apply knowledge and understanding of context, and make connections between my own creative work and creative work by other people and from other places and times.
– I can reflect upon how artists have achieved effects or communicated moods, emotions and ideas in their work.
My Parents (1977)
by David Hockney (b.1937)
Medium: oil on canvas Dimensions: H 182.9 x W 182.9 cm
This large, almost square canvas, is a double portrait of Laura and Kenneth Hockney, the artist's parents. It was painted a year before his father's death. Laura Hockney looks lovingly at her son, who paints them, while his father seems to be preoccupied with the book he is reading on his lap. What is it that makes Kenneth appear restless in his chair?
The cabinet in the middle of the painting seems to be carefully positioned with some interesting objects on display, including a mirror that reflects a reproduction of a Renaissance painting that later hung in the artist's studio.
This is a good opportunity to discuss family dynamics and relationships.
How does the precise and graphic style of the work and its colour palette relate to the mood of the scene?
Stage 1: look, describe and discuss
Show your students the painting below and ask them: Are they interested or not interested? Why?
Ask them to describe the figures and what's going on in the background and around them.
Don't tell them too much about what the picture represents at this stage. Once you have interpreted an image, or been told what to see, it is difficult to look freshly and critically at it or appreciate each other's views.
Tip: in class, you can view a full-screen version of the image on the Tate website.
Stage 2: nudge questions
Now when looking at the painting, ask more specific ('nudge') questions:
How have the characters and identities of the people in the painting been expressed?
How are they feeling at this particular moment in time? How do you know?
Are there any other clues or symbols that tell us something about their personality or identity?
How would you describe the mood of this painting? What elements help create the mood in this scene?
Suggested activity: strike a pose!
In pairs, ask your students to take turns recreating the pose and facial expression of each sitter in the painting. What do they think? Who is the most successful in showing each sitter's pose and expression, and why?
Now they have explored the physical pose and facial expression of the sitters in the painting, ask your students: how do they think the sitters may have been feeling?
Stage 3: Superpower Kit questions
Now we can start to explore the 'elements' of the painting. Use the Superpower Kitto ask questions about the work and spark a discussion.
We'd suggest focusing on the following areas to help your students 'read' the image (click to open the relevant Superpower Kit section):
Note: If you are unable to print copies of the paintings, you may wish to skip this activity and do the activity on order, further down, instead.
Ask your class to divide Hockney's My Parents in half along both axes, as below.
They can do this by measuring the artwork carefully with a ruler and pencil, or by precisely folding a printed copy of the painting. If you ask them to fold a printed copy of the painting, make sure that the artwork is either full page (the page trimmed to fit to avoid distorting the artwork), or exactly centred in the middle of the page – otherwise it won't work.
When everyone has completed this, ask them if anything in the picture lines up with the central vertical line on the canvas.
It does! The outside of the mirror on the cabinet coincides precisely with the central vertical axis line. This tells us that Hockney had carefully planned this composition.
Now ask your students to repeat this task with a copy of The Baptism of Christ by Piero della Francesca, which is seen reflected in the mirror in My Parents.
See if your class can spot that the dove is positioned very precisely – just like the outside of the mirror! The dove is important in this painting as it represents the Holy Ghost, so just like Hockney, Piero della Francesca has carefully planned his composition.
Hockney, like Piero della Francesca, was interested in precise line drawing. Many elements of Hockney's My Parents are straight (rather than curved).
How many straight lines can your class spot?
What effect do they think all these straight lines have on the painting?
Straight lines create a sense of order and reinforce the idea of everything having its place. Compared to a curved line or a series of diagonals, it helps make the scene calm and quiet.
Task your students with drawing two parallel vertical lines followed by two parallel diagonal lines.
Now ask them to compare them. Which set of lines create stillness and which creates dynamism and a sense of movement? They will hopefully be able to describe that the diagonal lines feel more energetic and show movement.
Now compare the lines shown by the two sitters in My Parents. Who has more movement, Mrs Hockney or Mr Hockney? Who looks more restless?