Levels P-3

In this activity students will develop their emotional vocabulary and visual literacy, practise expressing emotions from familiar situations, and develop their understanding of how emotion can be conveyed through art. Students will experiment with a range of media and processes and apply these approaches to create their own expressive artwork which evokes a feeling.

Learning objectives

Students will:

  • Identify and discuss how ideas and emotions are expressed in works of art from the NGV Collection.
  • Use and experiment with oil pastel and watercolour paint to visually express their experiences, ideas and emotions.
  • Design and create a mixed-media portrait composition.
  • Share ideas with their classmates about the expressive choices they made in their artwork.

Workshop instructions

  • Student Example

    Made by Nicholas at an NGV workshop.

  • Related Artworks

  • Discuss

    Look at the related works of art and use the following discussion prompts to explore emotion in art with your class:

    • What are the different types of human emotions, and how can we tell which emotions a person is feeling?
    • How can pictures or stories make us feel happy, sad or angry? How does each of these paintings make you feel? Why?
    • Which emotions are reflected in the painting? What choices did the artist make to reflect that emotion?
      Think about colour, sound, line, textures, shapes, facial expressions, posture, symbolism and narrative.
    • What similarities or differences can you see between the works of art?
    • What could you change in each work of art to create a different emotion? For example, can you make Picasso’s Weeping woman into a Laughing lady?
  • Resources & materials

    • A4 sketching paper
    • A3 cartridge paper
    • Oil pastels
    • Watercolour paint
    • Paint brushes
    • Grey lead pencil
  • Create

    Students design and create their work through the following steps:

    1. Choose an emotion to represent in a portrait.
      It might be related to an experience that created a strong emotion, for example spending time with a friend or losing a favourite toy.
    2. Sketch some ideas for what the portrait might look like.
      Utilise expressive features, shapes and lines which might express that emotion.
    3. Draw the design onto A3 paper with pencil, dividing the background behind the figure into sections for different colours.
    4. Colour the larger areas using watercolour paint.
      Think about colours that reflect the emotion you have chosen.
    5. Allow the paint to dry.
    6. Add lines, extra colour and further definition using oil pastel.
  • Present & reflect

    Students show their portrait to a partner:

    • Which emotion did you choose to show in your work?
    • What artistic choices did you make to reflect that emotion?