7th November 2003 at 00:00
Primary pupils will enjoy mixing paint and water with some washing-up liquid and using a straw to blow bubbles. Put a piece of paper on to the bubbles and print from them. The spherical surface of a bubble also produces fascinating coloured reflections which provide a stimulus for creative work. Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis poured thin paint in veils on to raw canvas, mixing oil paint with acrylic to exploit the resistant effects of water and oil; this is a messy activity, but pupils will enjoy exploring the process.

"Three worlds", an Escher lithograph (1955), shows fish under water and leaves on the surface: use this to lead to observational studies of ponds, in which pupils depict images reflected in the water and what is underneath - a challenging observational exercise for the more able.

Many artists have explored the theme of water and surface - such as Monet's "Water Lilies". David Hockney has produced a number of paintings and prints which record the reflections on the surface of water, with a figure swimming below ("Le Plongeur", 1978) or depict the splash that is created when the surface tension is broken ("A Bigger Splash", 1967).

Key stage 3 pupils can explore this theme by making a video of their friends jumping into water and creating a splash, which can then be played in slow motion and an appropriate frame selected, frozen and printed to use as the basis for a painting.

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