It is not always possible to take primary children to a gallery where they can see the work of an artist they are studying.
Instead, I use reproductions from galleries or downloaded from the internet.
One way of using these - which enables children to engage with a painting while gaining a stimulus for their own work - is by getting them to work in pairs using a viewfinder and A4-sized reproductions.
Viewfinders can be bought ready-made, but are easily made by stapling four thin strips of card together to create a six-centimetre wide by seven-centimetre long "window" to place on a section of the picture they find interesting. The pupils then have to reproduce this section in their sketch books.
I use a selection of landscape paintings, such as "Starry Night" (1889) by Vincent van Gogh - because of the artist's thick brushstrokes - and "Open Window, Collioure" (1905) by Henri Matisse. Andre Derain and Maurice de Vlaminck are also good, because of their bold use of colour.
Once they have copied a small section, the pupils repeat the activity, but this time they have to change all the colours. I encourage them to work on a larger scale using materials such as oil pastels. This enables them to explore the process of making art.
James Sharp is arts co-ordinator at Elmhurst Primary School, the London Borough of Newham
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