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Posts Tagged ‘Painting’


Posted 5 January 2017 by Kat

Who is he?

Paul Nash is one of the most important British artists of the early twentieth century. Let’s meet him!

Black and white negative, Paul sketching [Whiteleaf?] date not known, Tate Archive, © reserved

Photographer unknown, Black and white negative, Paul sketching [Whiteleaf?] date not known, Tate Archive, © reserved,

What is he most famous for?

Born in London in 1889, he is most famous for his landscape paintings, which look mysterious and sometimes slightly spooky.

Paul Nash, Pillar and Moon 1932–42, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Pillar and Moon 1932–42, c. Tate

The features in his landscapes often seem to be more than just a tree or a hill. They have characteristics that make them look like animals, people, or other strange creatures. When he was young Paul Nash was fascinated by a group of tall elm trees that grew at the end of his garden. These trees were very old and he thought they looked as if they were ‘hurrying along stooping and undulating like a queue of urgent females with fantastic hats’.
Do you ever look at things in the landscape like gnarled tree trunks or clouds (like below) and think they look like animals, people or monsters?

Paul Nash, Flight of the Magnolia, 1944, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Flight of the Magnolia, 1944, c. Tate

Look at the picture below. It looks like a beach inhabited by a very weird bunch of sunbathers! How do you think he made it?

Paul Nash, Swanage c.1936, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Swanage, c.1936, c. Tate

That’s right – he used collage. He collaged photographs of sticks and other bits of nature. (You could have a go at making your own eerie Paul Nash inspired landscape by sticking photos of twigs, leaves and other natural objects with funny shapes to a drawing or photograph of a landscape).

Where did his ideas and style come from?

There were two big things that influenced Paul Nash: abstract art and surrealism.

Abstract art is art that doesn’t try to show accurately how something looks. Artists change how things look to create a particular feeling or emotion. Sometimes they do this by using unexpected colours, shapes or messy brush marks or by changing the perspective and adding objects that look odd.

Do you think this picture looks like a real scene? What words would you use to describe it? How has Paul Nash made the landscape look a bit strange?

Paul Nash, Landscape at Iden, 1929, c. Tate

Paul Nash, Landscape at Iden, 1929, c. Tate

The ideas of the surrealists also influenced Paul Nash’s style. The surrealists were a group of artists who, in the 1920s began to make art and creative writing inspired by thoughts that are hidden deep in our brains – that we might not even know we have!

They were interested in the ideas of a famous psychologist called Sigmund Freud. A psychologist is someone who investigates people’s minds and tries to understand how they think. Freud called these hidden thoughts ‘the subconscious’. Sometimes these hidden thoughts appear in our dreams.

Anything else we need to know?

During both the First and Second World Wars Paul Nash was an official war artist. A war artist is someone paid by the government to paint or draw events that were happening in the war.

Paul Nash’s paintings didn’t just document the war in a straightforward way. In this painting, the huge red watery sunset adds a powerful feeling of sadness to this scene of a crashed plane.

Paul Nash, Bomber in the Corn, 1940,.

Paul Nash, Bomber in the Corn, 1940, c. Tate

Would you like to see a pile of dead monsters?

Paul Nash, Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940–1 c. Tate

Paul Nash, Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940–1 c. Tate

This is one of the most famous paintings Paul Nash painted during the Second World War. It looks a bit like the sea with spiky silvery waves doesn’t it? He called the painting Totes Meer (which is German for Dead Sea). Can you work out what is piled up in this graveyard?

Paul Nash called them ‘enchanting monsters’…

Look closely, can you see wings and wheels? The ‘waves’ are in fact lots of crashed and broken aeroplanes. Look even more closely and you might see a ghostly white bird flying in the sky…

So, Paul Nash liked dreams, landscapes, magic and the surreal! Let us know what you think about Nash in the comments. Make your own imaginary landscape using materials at home or on the My Imaginary City game.

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DIY CHRISTMAS: Lolly stick sledge decorations

Posted 20 December 2016 by Kat

It’s the festive season. It’s cold outside. It’s time to get crafty!

Use all your saved up lolly sticks and make yourself a tiny 3D sledge! Just follow these really easy steps!

What you need:
Lolly pop sticks
PVA glue
Paint and paintbrushes

Step 1.

Glue 4 lolly pop sticks together. Keep them together by using pegs and leave to dry. Make the base of the sledge using 3 lolly pop sticks.


Step 2.

Check out some of the artworks on Tate Kids and take inspiration by some of the amazing artworks in the Tate Collection!

I chose some paintings to base my designs on, such as this Bridget RileyJackson Pollock, and Joan Miró!

Step 3.

After the paint has dried, glue in 2 other lolly pop sticks to make your sledge 3D! Keep these upright with more pegs and leave to dry.

Step 4.

Loop string or ribbon around the top of the sledge and hang up!

Feeling inspired? If you make your own sledge or any of your own Christmas crafts, we’d love to see them! Send us your pictures by emailing: kids@tate.org.uk, sharing them on My Gallery, or get a grown up to tweet @tate_kids!

Happy Holidays!

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Posted 8 June 2016 by Kat

The new Tate Modern is opening next week. It’s your space to explore, play and see some great art.

What if the whole of Tate Modern was a playground?

Come and whiz through some of our playgrounds and re-think what a playground can be!

1. Fly away

Wolfgang Suschitzky, Hampstead Heath Fair 1949, later print, © Wolfgang Suschitzky

Wolfgang Suschitzky, Hampstead Heath Fair 1949, later print, © Wolfgang Suschitzky

We love this photograph of people having fun on a ride. It was taken by Wolfgang Suschitzky, who was born in Austria but moved to London in the 1930s. He took lots of photographs documenting the lives of ordinary people living in London. But although this photograph is of ordinary people, it’s an extraordinary picture. By carefully choosing where to stand to take the photograph he captures the dynamic flying-through-the-air movement of the ride and the exhilaration of the people enjoying it.

2. A DIY playground

But not all playgrounds have to be spectacular (or involve big scary rides). This painting is of a very different kind of playground…a DIY one.

William Roberts Playground (The Gutter) 1934-5, c. Tate

William Roberts, Playground (The Gutter) 1934-5, c. Tate

These children are using the street as their playground and seem to be having just as much fun. All sorts of activities are happening. Cricket, piggyback riding, music-making…and what seems to be a mass skipping game. Could you make a similar scene with your friends in the school playground?

3. Shake, rattle and roll

This playground is not where you might expect a playground to be…can you guess where it is? If I tell you it’s an artwork, this might give you a clue. Yes that’s right…it’s in an art gallery.

Installation view of the Robert Morris retrospective, Tate Gallery, 1971 Tate © Robert Morris

Installation view of the Robert Morris retrospective, Tate Gallery, 1971 Tate © Robert Morris

In 1971 artist Robert Morris was invited to create an artwork for Tate. The work he made, (and you may have to take a deep breath before reading the title!), was called Bodyspacemotionthings. It was the first work of art shown at Tate that you could play on. You’re usually not supposed to touch artworks in galleries (as they are too fragile) but people were encouraged to climb, balance, crawl and roll on the huge ramps, tunnels, platforms and beams made by the artist for the installation.

You missed Robert Morris’s original playground…but don’t worry, Tate recreated Bodyspacemotionthings at Tate Modern in 2009 and recorded the whole thing! Watch this video and discover just what a fantastic playground it was.

4. Art slides

Image of Carsten Höller’s Test Site, part of the Unilever Series at Tate Modern. Carsten Höller, Test Site, © Tate Photography.

Image of Carsten Höller’s Test Site, part of the Unilever Series at Tate Modern. Carsten Höller, Test Site, © Tate Photography.

Here’s another playground artwork. It was an installation by artist Carsten Holler at Tate Modern. Every year an artist is invited by Tate to make an installation for the huge Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. (The Turbine Hall is the massive room at the heart of the building where all the machinery was when the building was a power station – before it became Tate Modern!). Lots of artists make art for specific spaces (this is called site-specific art), but it’s quite tricky to think of an artwork that can fill such a huge space. What would you make?

Rather than seeing the space as a problem Carsten Holler used its massiveness, creating mega-slides that went between the different floors. People could go on the slides and whiz down right through the Turbine Hall.

5. What fun feels like

Our final playground isn’t exactly a picture OF a playground…instead it captures the fun and excitement of how whizzing down a slide and flying sky-high on a swing makes us feel.

Wassily Kandinsky Swinging 1925 c. Tate

Wassily Kandinsky, Swinging, 1925 c. Tate

The artist Wassily Kandinsky believed that colours, lines and shapes affect our feelings and emotions in the same way that music can. You know how a slow sad song makes you feel down and a pop song with a happy, fast beat makes you want to dance? Well Kandinsky believed that creating a painting is like composing music.

In 1911 he wrote: ‘colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammers, the soul is the piano with many strings. The artist is the hand which plays, touching one key or another, to cause vibrations in the soul’.

What does playing in a playground make you feel like? Have a go at using bright colours, dynamic shapes and lines shooting into the air to express your whizzing, climbing, running, dizzying playground experiences!

We would love to see you perfect art playgrounds. Paint, draw and make it, then share on My Gallery.

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Posted 25 May 2016 by Kat

What do you think this is a painting of?

Georgia O’Keeffe Abstraction White Rose 1927 Oil on canvas 36 x 30 (91.4 x 76.2) Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. Gift of The Burnett Foundation and Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum

Georgia O’Keeffe, Abstraction White Rose, 1927, Oil on canvas, 36 x 30 (91.4 x 76.2) Georgia O’Keeffe Museum. Gift of The Burnett Foundation and Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation © Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

Yes – It’s a flower, but it doesn’t look little and fragile as we usually expect flowers to look.

Why did Georgia O’Keeffe decide to paint it like this? This is what she said:

‘Nobody really sees a flower really – it is so small we haven’t time – and to see takes time… So I said to myself “I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it”’.

Who is she and what is she famous for?

Born in 1887, Georgia O’Keeffe was an American artist known for her emotional responses to nature. She is most known for her paintings of flowers and desert landscapes. She played an important part in the development of modern art in America, becoming the first female painter to gain respect in New York’s art world in the 1920s. Her unique and new way of painting nature, simplifying its shapes and forms meant that she was called a pioneer. The artwork below is a landscape. Do you see how she has simplified the clouds, sun and mountains?

Georgia O'Keeffe, Red and Orange Streak, 1919, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987

Georgia O’Keeffe, Red and Orange Streak, 1919, Bequest of Georgia O’Keeffe for the Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1987

Interestingly, O’Keeffe was fascinated by the bones and skulls she found in the landscape. She said, “To me they are as beautiful as anything I know…The bones seem to cut sharply to the center of something that is keenly alive on the desert even tho’ it is vast and empty and untouchable.” Do you agree? Why do you think she painted them so large in front of the landscape?

Georgia O'Keeffe From the Faraway, Nearby 1937 Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA) © TBC on receipt of permission

Georgia O’Keeffe From the Faraway, Nearby 1937 Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA) © Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1959

How did she develop her style?

Georgia knew from the age of 12 that she wanted to be an artist. She went to art school but what she was taught there didn’t seem relevant to the way she wanted to paint. Then in 1912 she discovered the revolutionary ideas of an artist and designer called Arthur Wesley Dow. He emphasised the importance of composition – which means how you arrange shapes and colours. As O’Keeffe explained: ‘His idea was, to put it simply, fill a space in a beautiful way’. This was a light-bulb moment for her and from then on she began to experiment with shapes, colours and marks.

Georgia met other artists who, like her, were experimenting with abstract art. Art in the 1920s was exciting. Artists didn’t just want to show how something looked but were using colours, shapes and brush-marks in unexpected ways to express meanings, ideas and feelings. This encouraged Georgia to develop her own unique style – a combination of abstract and realistic.

What inspired her?


Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico / Out Back of Marie’s II 1930, Georgia O’Keeffe Museum (Santa Fe, USA). Gift of The Burnett Foundation
© Georgia O’Keeffe Museum/DACS, London

Look at this painting of hills. Although you can recognise what it is, it also has a strange and powerful atmosphere that a photograph of the landscape, or a more traditional, straightforward realistic painting, wouldn’t have.  What words would you use to describe this landscape?

It was painted in New Mexico, USA. Georgia first visited New Mexico in 1916 and fell in love with the dramatic desert landscape with its rugged mountains. This is what she said about the landscape:

‘As soon as I saw it, that was my country. I’d never seen anything like it before but it fitted to me exactly. There’s something that’s in the air, its just different. The sky is different the stars are different, the wind is different’.

On the Road

Georgia wanted to stay as close as possible to the remote landscape places she loved, she travelled around the desert drawing and painting. She battled the heat and heavy wind and camped out under the stars. Luckily she had favourite mobile studio with her – her car – which she’d specially adapted as a place to work.

Have you ever visited a landscape that has taken your breath away? Next time try putting those feelings across using shapes and colours and try, (as Georgia says) to ‘fill the space in a beautiful way’.

You can see some of O’Keeffe’s beautiful artwork for yourself at an upcoming exhibition at Tate Modern. Remember you go free – as its free to go to all Tate exhibitions if you are Under 12. :)

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Posted 6 April 2016 by Kat

1. Monster mutt

William Blake, Cerberus 1824–7, c. Tate

William Blake, Cerberus 1824–7, c. Tate

You probably wouldn’t want to pat this dog on the head. For a start you’d need to decide which head to pat…Meet Cerberus the three headed dog that, in Greek mythology, guards the gates of the underworld. If you’re a fan of Harry Potter this monster mutt may seem familiar…the character (rather disconcertingly) known as Fluffy, the fierce three-headed dog that guards the magical philosopher’s stone, is based on Cerberus.

2. Gruesome ghouls

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944, c. Tate

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion c.1944, c. Tate

What are those things? When this painting was first shown, visitors at the exhibition who saw it were terrified, as the images were ‘so awful that the mind shut up with a snap at the sight of them’. Where on earth did Francis Bacon get his gruesome ideas? Apparently he was inspired by some strange sources, including photographs from a medical book about diseases of the mouth, and ectoplasm (which is a kind of horrible gunky liquid produced by ghosts!). Eughhhh!

As well as being very scary, the screaming heads look as if they are in agony. The picture was painted towards the end of the Second World War, so the monsters perhaps symbolise the suffering and horror of the war.

3. Humanimalirdies?

Karel Appel, Hip, Hip, Hoorah! 1949, © Karel Appel Foundation

Karel Appel, Hip, Hip, Hoorah! 1949, © Karel Appel Foundation

Phew what a relief…some jolly-looking monsters. These creature hybrids are a mix of humans, animals and birds. Can you work out which body bits belong to which species? Karel Appel belonged to CoBrA, a group of artists who were inspired by art made by children. The bright colours and playful style are typical of CoBrA artworks. Appel said that he called the work Hip Hip Hooray because he was so happy that he didn’t have to paint in a boring grown-up style.

Tate Kids has invented the name ‘humanimalirdies’ for these creatures (that’s a mix of ‘human’, ‘animal’ and ‘birdies’). Create your own monster mixes and invent names for them. Try out Tate Paint or Street Art. Look at drawings by artist Stephen Gilbert, who was also a CoBrA artist, for inspiration. He drew lots of monster-y looking mixed-up creatures in his sketchbooks. You can see them here.

4. Rock monsters

Eileen Agar, Photograph of ‘Le Lapin’ rock in Ploumanach July 1936 c. Tate

Eileen Agar, Photograph of ‘Le Lapin’ rock in Ploumanach July 1936 c. Tate

This photograph of a ‘monster’ was taken by artist Eileen Agar at the seaside in Cornwall. Yes, it is a rock – but can you see a monster rabbit lurking in its bumps and lumps? Agar saw strange faces and other bits of body in the shapes of these Cornish seaside rocks, and described them as ‘enormous prehistoric monsters sleeping on the turf above the sea’. She was inspired by the power of nature and loved the fact that these strange monster rocks had been created purely by the forces of water and wind. She also had silly names for them, that described their body-bit shapes…such as ’Rockface’ and ‘Bum and Thumb Rock’.

5. Be a young Frankenstein

Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman, Exquisite Corpse 2000, © Jake and Dinos Chapman

Jake Chapman, Dinos Chapman, Exquisite Corpse 2000, © Jake and Dinos Chapman

Have you ever played that game where you draw a head, fold the paper over so your head drawing is hidden, and then pass the paper on to someone else who draws the body? Did you know that the surrealists invented it? They called the game Le Cadavre Exquis (which is French for The Exquisite Corpse).

The Chapman brothers made this artwork together. They drew onto etching plates instead of pieces of paper. They like to use particularly monster-like body parts, like skulls, eyeballs and animal heads. What else can you see in their artwork?

Have a go for yourself with your family and friends. Share it with us on My Gallery. We’d love to see the scary, funny and weird monsters you create.



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