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Resource notes and guidelines

This Art and Design, English, and Geography resource offers a series of teacher-led, whole class or group activities.

The questions and discussion suggestions are voiced directly to students, allowing the resource to be easily presented to the class. The making activity at the end of the resource provides ideas and suggestions for developing a two-dimensional artwork project with your class. Teachers' guidance notes and contextual information are included throughout the resource.

The resource can be used together as a lesson plan or as individual components to integrate into your own scheme of work. It is designed for CfE Level 1/KS 1 students/National Curriculum Wales Foundation Phase Yrs 1 & 2, but can also be adapted for younger age groups.

 

Waking up to the snow

Imagine you wake up on a winter morning, look out of the window and the weather looks like this.

Russian Snow Scene

Russian Snow Scene

Eric Thornton Prehn (1894–1985)

Museums & Galleries Edinburgh – City of Edinburgh Council

  • What is the weather like in this painting?
  • How do you feel when you see it?
  • What would you do on a snowy day?
  • What colours and textures can you see?
  • Why do you think the fence and the sides of the house are the only colourful things in the painting?

 

Teacher notes

Snow has fallen – but it is a calm rather than a blustery day. You could point out to the students that the smoke from the chimney is going straight upwards and ask them what this tells us.

Notice how the artist hasn't just used white for the snow. Soft blues and pinks suggest the shadows and sunlight on the snow.

Look at the thick brushstrokes by the path through the snow and the flicks of white paint added to the top of the fence to suggest the settled snow.

Encourage students also to discuss the effect of snowfall. The fence and the walls of the building are vertical so do not get so easily covered in snow (unless there is a strong wind that blows the snow against them).

 

Painting the snow

This is a very different snow scene! At first, it looks like a mess of marks and shapes. But look closely…

Dog in a Snowy Wood

Dog in a Snowy Wood

Mary Kessell (1914–1977)

Highland Council

  • Can you spot a dog in the painting?
  • Can you see the branches of trees?
  • How has the artist used paint and brushstrokes to suggest the trees and the snow?

 

About the painting

This painting is called Dog in a Snowy Wood and was painted by an artist called Mary Kessell. Mary Kessell used lots of textures and expressive marks in her paintings.

She has cleverly used different brushstrokes, marks and lines to create this blustery snow scene. Thick messy brushstrokes suggest the rough snowy ground of the wood. Thinner delicate grey lines are used for the branches of the trees.

 

Snowy words

Think of words to describe how snow looks and makes you feel.

Ski Jacket

Ski Jacket 1994

Peter Doig (b.1959)

Tate


Teacher notes

The words could be about the snow itself (e.g. 'white', 'crunchy'); the temperature; or how the snow makes the landscape look – such as 'sparkly' or 'muffled'. Students could also think of words that express how the snow makes them feel – such as 'excited'. Encourage students to be imaginative with their word choices.

Write the words on the whiteboard and save them for use in the making and extension activities.

 

Sunshine!

When you wake up on another morning (many months later) the weather looks very different!

The Upturned Boats, Llandudno

The Upturned Boats, Llandudno 1991

Andrew Macara (b.1944)

Parliamentary Art Collection

  • What is happening in this painting?
  • What is the weather like?
  • What season do you think it is?
  • How has the artist made it look sunny?
  • Where do you think the sun is in the sky?
  • What would you do on a sunny day like this?

 

Teacher notes

Although we can't actually see the sun, the artist has suggested its brightness through the colours he has used. The sky is clear blue, and the yellow of the beach and pink of the promenade paving is bright because the sun is shining on them. The strong purple shadows created by the railings, figures and steps also suggest the sun's brightness.

The shadows tell us that the sun is somewhere to the above right of the painting. The length of the shadows tell us that the sun is low in the sky – so it must be the afternoon or early evening.

Notice how the artist has used blues and purples for the shadows. We often think of shadows as grey or black but artists often use the colour complements of bright yellows and oranges for shadows. Complementary colours are colours that are on opposite sides of the colour wheel and contrast with each other more than any other colour. Artists use complementary colours to add brightness to an artwork.

 

Summer afternoon

Here is another painting of a summer day. It is by a Scottish artist called William Gillies who often painted the places near his home in Midlothian.

Summer Afternoon, Letterfearn

Summer Afternoon, Letterfearn c.1947

William George Gillies (1898–1973)

National Galleries of Scotland

Look how bright the colours are in the sunshine! Flecks of light reflect off the water and off the yellow dry grass at the front of the painting. Gillies' loose brush marks and dabs of colour make the landscape seem alive, dancing in the sunlight.

 

Sunshine words

Think of words to describe how sunshine looks and makes you feel.

Teacher notes

The words could be about the colour of sunlight (e.g. 'bright', 'yellow'); the temperature; or how the sunshine make a landscape or cityscape look. Students could also think of words that express how the sunshine makes them feel – such as 'optimistic' or 'lazy'. Encourage students to be imaginative with their words choices.

Write the words on the whiteboard and save them for use in the making and extension activities.

 

Rainy days

Oh no! It doesn't look so bright out there today. What does the weather look like in these paintings?

  • Describe what you can see in each painting.
  • How has each artist made it look rainy and wet?
  • What colours can you see in the first painting of people in the rain? What marks and brushstrokes can you see?
  • Can you see any reflections in the second painting of the city street? What does this tell us?

 

Teacher notes

The paintings are very different in style but they both show rainy days.

  • The artist Emily Learmont has used actual drips to suggest the raindrops and swirly messy brushstrokes for the cloudy stormy sky and wet, puddled ground. There is little colour in the painting. The only colours are the clothes of the people. The cold greys add to the sense of it being wet (and miserable!) with the colours and details of the street or landscape hidden by the rainy weather.
  • Diana Hadden's painting is more realistic in style. She has also used colour and brushstrokes to suggest the rain. The colours of the buildings and cars look faded giving the impression of haziness as if we are seeing them through a sheet of rain. She has used horizontal brushstrokes to suggest the puddles on the road. She has also made use of reflections – with the red of the traffic lights reflected on the watery road surface. (Ask your students where they normally see reflections – on shiny surfaces such as mirrors, polished metal – and on water.)

 

Rainy words

Think of words to describe the rain.

Teacher notes

The words could be about what the rain looks like and feels like (e.g. 'drips', 'wet'), or how it makes a landscape or cityscape look. Students could also think of words that express how the rain makes them feel and what they would do on a rainy day. Encourage students to be imaginative with their word choices.

Write the words on the whiteboard and save them for use in the making and extension activities.

Feeling the weather

Sometimes artists don't only show what the weather looks like... they also show what it feels like!

This painting is by an artist called John Mallord William Turner. It looks quite modern but, in fact, it was painted nearly 200 years ago!

Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth

Snow Storm - Steam-Boat off a Harbour's Mouth exhibited 1842

Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851)

Tate

John Mallord William Turner painted lots of landscapes with different types of weather.

  • What can you see in this painting?
  • What do you think the weather is like?
  • What colours and shapes can you see?
  • What does the painting make you feel?

 

About the painting

The painting shows a stormy sea. If you look very carefully you can see a boat. (The boat is a paddle steamer – can you see the paddle and the steam from its funnel?) But the painting is dominated by the storm. The swirly shapes of the sky and sea suggest the turbulent wind and whipped-up waves. The dark colours with flashes of white add drama to the picture.

There is a story that Turner asked to be tied to the mast of a boat in a storm so that he could feel what the storm was like (as well as see it). He wanted to put across this feeling in his painting. Do you think he has been successful?

 

Abstracting the weather

Look at the paintings in this slideshow.

They are all about the weather but they are not paintings of places or people in the rain, sunshine or snow. The artists have used only colours, patterns and brush marks to suggest the weather.

For each painting:

  • Can you guess the weather in the painting?
  • What colours can you see? What patterns and shapes can you see?
  • What does the painting make you feel?
  • Do you think the artist has successfully put across the feeling of the weather in the painting?

 

Teacher notes

You could make the slideshow into a quiz and ask students to guess the weather. The types of weather effects shown are sunshine, ice, rain, snow and wind.

For each artwork, initially encourage students to respond to what they can see (patterns, shapes colours, etc.).

Then look at how the artists have used visual elements (colours, marks, patterns, etc.) to suggest the weather. Do the marks suggest rain? Do the colours suggest sunshine? Do the patterns suggest snow?

The paintings are all abstract depictions of the weather. Introduce the idea of abstraction to your students and explain that drawings, paintings and sculptures don't always have to be visually realistic. They can show other things that we can't see such as emotions, feelings and ideas. Or sometimes they are just about shapes and colours.

 

Kerry Hamon, Abstract Untitled (2003)
This painting by British artist Kerry Hamon explores the effect of sunlight shining through the leaves of a tree. Dabs of yellow and pale blue suggest the sky and sunlight shining through leaf shapes. The painting is from a series of works inspired by naturally occurring patterns within nature.

Abstract Untitled

Abstract Untitled 2003

Kerry Hamon (b.1974)

Jersey Arts Centre

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, Glacier Crystal, Grindelwald (1950)
Scottish artist Wilhelmina Barns-Graham fell in love with glaciers when she visited Switzerland in 1948. She was interested in their shapes and monumental structure and in the contrast between the transparency and solidity of the ice. She has used cold colours and thin layers of paint to suggest the look and feel of the ice.

Glacier Crystal, Grindelwald

Glacier Crystal, Grindelwald 1950

Wilhelmina Barns-Graham (1912–2004)

Tate

Tom Pow, Summer Rain (1984)
The pattern of dabs and squiggles in Scottish artist Tom Pow's painting suggests the patter of raindrops. But the painting doesn't look blustery and cold. The inclusion of yellows and the even pattern of the brushstrokes reflect the fact that this is gentle summer rain!

Summer Rain

Summer Rain 1984

Tom Pow (1909–1996)

Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh)

Victor Pasmore, The Snowstorm: Spiral Motif in Black and White (1950–1951)
The pattern of swirls and spirals of English artist Victor Pasmore's painting was inspired by flurries of the snow during a snowstorm. The more structured shapes towards the bottom of the painting suggest the snow settling on the ground, while the spirals towards the top of the painting seem looser, perhaps suggesting the snow whirling through the sky. The artist has used a monotone palette of whites pale greys and black, reflecting the blanketing effect that snow has on the landscape, covering up any colour.

The Snowstorm: Spiral Motif in Black and White

The Snowstorm: Spiral Motif in Black and White 1950–1951

Victor Pasmore (1908–1998)

Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre

J. Gordon Brown, Blowing in the Wind
The shapes in this painting by Scottish artist J. Gordon Brown look as if they are being blown around by the wind. The long hanging shapes look like a tree's branches bending in the wind. The dark colours make the painting seem slightly menacing, perhaps the feeling we have when we hear the wind howling at night.

Blowing in the Wind

Blowing in the Wind

J. Gordon Brown (active 1987–2007)

Grampian Hospitals Art Trust

 

Dressing for the weather

Now that you have seen what the weather is like, you need to decide what to wear.

  • Which of these clothes and accessories would be best for the sunshine, snow and rain?
  • How do they protect us from the weather?

 

Dressing for extreme weather

Umbrellas, sunglasses and woolly hats are designed especially for different types of weather. In some countries, the weather is so extreme that they have to design even more specialised clothes and accessories so that they can survive.

  • Can you guess what these objects are?
  • What sort of weather do you think they were made for?

Snow-goggles, 1800–1850, made by Eskimo-Aleut/Innuit (Inuinnait), found/acquired North America

Snow-goggles, 1800–1850, made by Eskimo-Aleut/Innuit (Inuinnait), found/acquired North America


Snow-shoes made by Arctic/Northeast Peoples (?), found/acquired North America

Snow-shoes made by Arctic/Northeast Peoples (?), found/acquired North America

Both of these objects were made for wearing in the snow. They were made by people in North America over 100 years ago.

  • The first object is a pair of snow goggles that protects the eyes from the snow and the glare of the sun on the snow.
  • The second objects might look like tennis rackets but in fact, they are snow-shoes. Have you ever walked in deep snow and found it difficult to lift your feet? You would find it much easier if you were wearing these! Because the snow-shoes are big and flat when they are strapped to your boots they prevent your feet from sinking into the snow. (They work a little like skis – which are made for sliding across the snow.)

 

Walking in the weather

Now that you are dressed for the weather... are you ready to face it?

This sculpture shows a group of people walking on a windy day.

  • How are they walking?
  • How has the artist made it look windy?

People in the Wind

People in the Wind 1950

Kenneth Armitage (1916–2002)

Tate

Walking in the wind

The people look as if they are battling against the wind, leaning into it to stop themselves from being blown away! Their clothes are also being blown out behind them

  • If you were walking in the wind how would you walk?

 

Imagine you are walking in different types of weather

Children in the Snow

Children in the Snow

Ruskin Spear (1911–1990)

Somerset County Council

  • How do you walk if it is rainy and wet? (Look out for the puddles!)
  • How do you walk through thick snow? (How do you think you would walk if you were wearing snowshoes?)
  • If the sun is very hot would you feel like walking slowly or quickly?

 

Teacher notes

  • This could be an outdoor activity. Ask students to walk or move as if in different types of weather. You could develop this activity into a 'charade' style game by asking individual students to act out walking in a particular weather condition and ask the rest of the group to guess the weather.
  • Encourage students to think about whether they would walk slowly or quickly (or would they run?!), how they would move or lift their feet, what they might be wearing or carrying to protect them from the weather, and what the ground might feel like.

Activity suggestion: make a weather picture

Task your students with making a weather picture inspired by the artworks they have explored in this resource. They could make a drawing, a painting or a mixed-media artwork using collage.

  • It could be a picture of a snowy, sunny or rainy scene.
  • It could be an abstract artwork, using colours shapes and marks to suggest what the weather feels like.
  • Or students could create a picture of themselves dressed for the weather and enjoying it (or not!)

Abstract – Summer Sunset

Abstract – Summer Sunset

George Melhuish (1916–1985)

Art in Healthcare

 

Painting and drawing tips

Encourage students to think about colours, marks and shapes and how they could use materials to suggest the look and feel of the weather.

  • Will they use warm or cold colours?
  • What sort of mark-making suggests rain?
  • How could they create the effect of thick snow?
  • If they are using collage materials what could they use to suggest the effects of snow, rain or sun?

 

Weather words

Use the descriptive weather words from the group discussion.

  • The words might inspire students to think about the effects they want to create in their pictures.
  • Students could add the words directly into their pictures.
  • Or you could use them in a display of the finished artworks.

 

A snowy-day picture

If students are painting a snowy picture, they could think about how the snow hides lots of things, and how the vertical surfaces – or places that are sheltered – stand out against the snow.

What patterns does snow make?

Snow isn't just white – remind students about the snow paintings they looked at that include pinks and greys and other colours to suggest the snow and its shadows.

They could suggest the thick texture of snow by spreading thick paint with a piece of card (creating a similar effect to paint that has been added using a palette knife). Or they could explore adding paint with sponges or other materials. Collage materials with shiny or glittery surfaces would helo create the effect of light shining on snow.

Explore more snow paintings on Art UK for inspiration

First Snow

First Snow 1993

Caitlin Foy (b.1970)

Art in Healthcare

 

A sunny-day picture

If students are making a sunny-day picture, they could think about shadows as well as sunshine. What colours are shadows? What direction would the shadows fall? How could they use patterns to suggest the dappled effects of sunshine and shadows?... Could this be an abstract picture?

They could use thin watery paint to suggest light and shadow or, if they are creating a collage, they could use torn-up pieces of tissue paper and layer these to create sunlight and shadow effects.

Sunlight in a Wood

Sunlight in a Wood

Robert Mackechnie (1894–1975)

Rye Art Gallery

How do they dress for the sunshine and what sunny-day activities could they depict?

Explore more paintings of sunshine on Art UK for inspiration

 

A rainy-day picture

If they are painting a rainy-day picture, how will they show the rain? Encourage them to explore drips, gestural marks and splashes to suggest the effects of the raindrops or use shiny collage materials to suggest a puddle. Reflections help to create the impression of wet, shiny surfaces. Use blotted, thin, watered-down paint or a smudged crayon to suggest a reflection.

How do they dress for the rain and walk in the rain? Do they enjoy it... or do they shelter from it or hurry along?

Boy with Umbrella in the Wind

Boy with Umbrella in the Wind (recto)

William Henry Hunt (1790–1864)

The Courtauld, London (Samuel Courtauld Trust)

Explore more paintings of rain on Art UK for inspiration

Extension activities

Weather poems

In this resource, students are encouraged to think about words they might use to describe the weather, its effects and how it makes them feel.

Use these weather words as a starting point for a creative writing activity.

Explore these Art UK resources for ideas. Although not written for Level 1/KS 1 students, some of the activities could be adapted to teach this age group.

Write a haiku inspired by the seasons

Words into art: Ian Hamilton Finlay's visual poetry

 

Climate change

Explore climate change and the impact of increasing extreme weather on people and places.

Our climate change Round-up includes links to resources for all age groups from our partner collections with ideas for teaching about climate change, the environment and related issues.

Explore Art UK's climate change and the environment Round-up resource


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