Scan in first year sketch book or another example. Step by step guide of how to conduct mark making activity
“..unique among 20th century British artists. No other
1 artist since Turner has done more to celebrate the British
landscape & it's architecture.”
John Piper 1903-1992
JOHN PIPER- 1903 – 1992
At aged 25 Piper decided to become an artist and
trained at the Kingston and Richmond Schools of Henry Moore
Art, at the Royal College where Henry Moore was a
teacher, and at the Slade in 1930.
In the early 1930's he became absorbed in the
abstract movement of which Ben Nicholson and
Barbara Hepworth were leaders and was
strengthened in this direction by a visit to Paris in
1933, when he met Braque, Brancusi, Leger and
In the late 1930's he more and more abandoned the
abstract, reverting to representational landscape.
His romantic fantasies on great houses and
churches in decay earned him a comparison with
Piranesi and his paintings of bomb-devastated Babara Hepworth
buildings during the war won high praise.
In the summer of 1934 after meeting the art writer
Myfanwy Evans set up their own magazine 'Axis'. At
this time he also collaborated with his poet friend 2
John Betjeman on the famous Shell Guides. John Piper
During the war he was commissioned to record
bomb damage, most notably London, Bristol &
Coventry & in 1944 he was made an official war
Piper has been called "the most versatile visual
man of his generation". He has done book
illustration, stage design, designed
pottery, tapestry, ceramics, stained glass
windows, textiles, and has written on the arts and
on the countryside.
His first London one-man exhibition was at the
London Gallery in 1938 and his first New York
exhibition at the Curt Valentin Gallery in 1948.
A retrospective exhibition was given by the
Marlborough Gallery of Fine Art in 1964. He has
been exhibited very frequently in Britain, on the
Continent and in America and his works are
represented in many major public collections. He
was made a Companion of Honour in 1972. http://www.marlboroughfine
'...Abstraction is a luxury that has been left to the present day to exploit. It is a luxury just as any single ideal is, and like a single ideal it should be
approached all the time, but not pre-supposed all the time. To pre-suppose it always, if you are a painter, is to paint the same picture always:
or else to give up painting altogether because there is nothing left to paint...'
Extract from 'Abstraction on the Beach' John Piper 1938
This work‟s stage-like interleaving of coloured planes reflects Piper‟s
engagement with abstract aesthetics. Though Piper is more commonly
thought of as a painter of historical architecture and the landscape, for a
short period he was intimately involved in the avant-garde. This was evident
in his association with Axis, a groundbreaking journal of abstract art, which
was edited by his wife Myfanwy. Piper had strong links with artists abroad
and his own collection included works by painters Piet Mondrian and Jean
Helion, as well as the American sculptor Alexander Calder.
Click here to see Piper‟s
Abstraction at the Tate
Abstraction is a luxury
that has been left to the
present day to exploit.
Abstraction is the way to
the heart — it is not the
heart itself. 4
Abstract I 1935 Oil on canvas over wood support: 917 x 1065 x 50 mm frame: 1185 x 1339 x
80 mm painting
OFFICIAL WAR ARTIST: 1940‟S
A war artist, also known as a combat artist, captures the experience of war in an
artistic manner whilst based in the battlefield. Unlike war poets, a war artist is
almost always acting in an official capacity.
St Mary le Port, Bristol 1940 Piper was commissioned as a war
artist during the Second World War, painting the „Home Front‟.
In this capacity he made a series of paintings of bombed
buildings, visiting the sites to take photographs and make
sketches, which formed the basis for a series of paintings. St
Mary le Port was hit in the attacks on Bristol Docks in November
During the time that Piper was appointed an official war artist in
the Second World War, he collaborated with many
others, including the poet John Betjeman as well as with the
potter Geoffrey Eastop and the artist Ben Nicholson. The
Second World War is when Piper became well known for his
depictions of most specifically bombed out Churches.
Whilst being the official
war artist Piper worked
alongside the poet John
Betjeman. Click here for
more information on
Betjeman and his poems.
PAINTING: 1950‟S & 60‟S
Although Piper is best known for his paintings of British
landscape and architecture, he did venture further afield
from the 1950s and 1960s, in particular to France and
Italy. This painting was made after a visit to Rome in the
early spring of 1961, and shows his reaction to the city.
The details of the architecture are left vague, but a
strong impression is created with the arrangement of
geometric shapes and varied textures, combined with
The Forum 1961 Oil on canvas
the warm bright colours of the Roman light.
Jacobean and Georgian church
monuments are a frequent subject
in Piper‟s sketches and
paintings, and this work is an
excellent example of his use of
colour and light to create a
„romantic‟ portrait of them, in which
the figures almost come alive. The
monument is in honour of Sir
Inglesham, Wiltshire: A Rustic Medieval
Thomas Spencer (died 1684), at Interior 1964
Yarnton Church in Oxfordshire. Lithograph on paper
Yarnton Monument 1947-8 Oil on canvas
Retrospect of Churches, published in 1964, was a portfolio of
twenty-four lithographs of churches and church architecture.
The prints contain a wide variety of architectural and artistic
styles, demonstrating both the breadth of Piper‟s interest in
English churches and of his technique. The church shown
here, Inglesham, on the boundary of Wiltshire and Berkshire, is
a small but largely unaltered thirteenth century church, once a Inglesham, Wiltshire: A Rustic Medieval Interior 1964
favourite of the designer William Morris. Lithograph on paper
During the mid-1930s Piper‟s work was dominated by abstraction and
work in collage; the latter often inspired by beach scenes. Although
Piper did not make „pure‟ abstracts after the 1930s, he continued to
use the techniques he had developed during those years in his later
works such as this study of a beach in Anglesey; the shapes have
been simplified to be almost abstract, and the two bright tear-shapes
could have been cut out of paper.
Lithograph is a method for printing using a
stone or a metal plate with a completely
smooth surface. For more information on
Lithographs, including a definition click here.
Shown here is a lithograph printing press.
Anglesey Beach 1962-3
Lithograph on paper
Yarnton Monument 1947-8 Oil on canvas Anglesey Beach 1962-3 Lithograph on paper
Inglesham, Wiltshire: A Rustic Medieval Interior 1964
Lithograph on paper The Forum 1961 Oil on canvas
SCREEN PRINTING: 1970‟S
John Piper designed the sets for the first staging of the opera Death in Venice in 1973.
The opera was based on the novella by Thomas Mann and was the work of British
composer Benjamin Britten with Myfanwy Piper, who wrote the libretto. Piper‟s sets
used narrow revolving panels painted with details of Venetian architecture. This
screen-print is from a portfolio of eight based on the sketches he made for the set
Holkham, Norfolk 1976 South Lopham Church
Screen-print on paper
Holkham Hall in Norfolk is the home of the Earls of Leicester and is
a „Palladian‟ mansion, built in the style of Italian architect Andrea
Palladio (1508–1580), popular in Britain during the mid-seventeenth
century to early eighteenth century. Piper had a keen interest in
Georgian architecture, and with John Betjeman championed the
rights of Georgian and Victorian buildings to be considered on their
merits alongside older buildings. He painted a number of great
houses of this era, and this print of Holkham‟s gate is a good 9
[title not known] 1972 Screen-print on paper
example of the romantic atmosphere with which he imbues such
Click here to be taken to exhibition subjects.
notes involving this piece.
HOW TO USE PIPER’S WORK IN THE
•Cross Curricular Links
•A trip to the beach
•The importance of the sketchbook
•Drawing Resources •Exploration of colour
•Exploration of line and tone •Colour mixing activities
•Line activity •John Piper as a resource
CROSS CURRICULAR LINKS
There are many opportunities for activities and plentiful opportunities for cross curricular links based upon John
Piper‟s works, the most obvious due to his recognition of work in this stage, being The Blitz. However the most
accessible perhaps would be the beach.
There are many links to other subjects across the Primary Curriculum when
simply looking at a selection of themes in John Piper‟s work. From beaches
there are clear links to Science and Geography.
Children studying Piper would greatly benefit from a trip to the nearest
beach to further their learning. Going to see a beach allows them to engage
all senses to develop an understanding of their environment. Not only is it
free (if within walking distance of the school) but is exploring the children‟s
local environment. Many children living in Plymouth have never been to the
beach even though they live on the coast.
A trip to the beach can support other subjects so
is therefore justified with a day or only half a day
out of the classroom. Opportunities for Science
experiments and Geography (environmental)
research are both relevant to the art topic and
relate directly to the National Curriculum.
St Ives beach scene
CROSS CURRICULAR LINKS CONT..
I have a firm belief that children should be aware of their local history and the history of their
country. These paintings illustrate some of the damage caused in the Second World War – Piper
was and official war artist.
Most Plymouth children will at some point have see the bombed out Church in the centre of
Plymouth but may not know why it is like that or how long it has been there. Comparing the damage
to the bombed out church to that represented in his paintings can relate to History and PSHE
sparking discussion on wars, why we have wars and perhaps family members that would have
been affected by the war.
The Bells Go Down 1942 Plymouth‟s bombed out church The Arch in the Ravine
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SKETCHBOOK
Sketchbooks and experimentation or explorational
Gather resources and materials work, with a variety of different materials and sources
According to SCAA, by the end of year 4 children should be collecting previously mentioned can form a basis and learning
visual information in their sketchbooks and they should be able to use it as curve. A sketchbook is a working progress which can
a source material for their work. By the end of year 6 children should be
be dipped into at any point for reference. It is also a
selecting their own visual information to collect in order to experiment with
ideas suggested to them. way of monitoring a child‟s progress, sketchbooks
The sketchbook can be used as a place to collect: should be full of annotations and bursting with ideas.
Photographs; It is a place for a student to build ideas and farm their
Photocopies of art works – even of other children‟s work; interests and knowledge together in artistic
Pictures from magazines, comics, cards, calendars, stamps etc;
Samples of textures, fabrics, and other materials;
Titles of music used to stimulate a response;
Poem or stories that were used to stimulate a response; (many artists Children can use what they have experimented with;
have interpreted stories and myths in their work) mark making, line, tone, colour and texture etc. to
Lists of resources that the children might need to produce a piece of art; almost work out how to express an aspect of a
Obviously, we do not want the sketchbook to be turned into a glorified
picture, in this case still life. They can see what works
scrapbook so it is up to the individual teacher to try and maintain a balance
between collected material and the rest of the sketchbook contents. well and from this perform a basis of which technique
can be used for which characteristic or expression in
Explore and use media a composition.
The children can use the sketchbook as a place to keep records of their
own, or other children‟s, exploration of media. It is possible to use the
sketchbook pages themselves to explore different media on although the
children will probably explore the effects of most media outside the
The sketchbook is a good place to keep:
Colour strips from colour mixing;
Tone bars from tone work;
Studies of the effects of media on different types of paper;
Comments and notes on the use of media e.g. how to mix a certain colour
or how to get a certain effect;
The mini-binder sketchbook
Aims for the sketchbook:
•To provide a record of our children's’ learning in art;
•To make our children more independent and confident
The rest of this document looks individually at the
strands of art in the National Curriculum and gives some
examples of how we could use the sketchbook to
Click here for more information on sketchbooks. This sketchbook shows examples of
different types of mark making using
paint. Experimentation goes on to
look at movement of the paintbrush
to create line, different styles of line
(circular, zig- zag, smooth etc.)
The sketchbook is a very important
vehicle in aiding the progression of
children‟s work throughout the primary
school. A sketchbook can be a
personal space for children to
explore, annotate and record
ideas, activities such as this can be 14
A sketchbook is a National Curriculum requirement, Click here
done in the sketchbook.
to see more on the National Curriculum for Art.
A pencil is a writing instrument or drawing instrument consisting of
a thin stick of pigment (usually graphite, but can also be coloured
pigment or charcoal) and clay, usually encased in a thin wood
cylinder though paper and plastic sheaths are also used. Pencils are
distinct from pens, which use a liquid marking material. Varying in
weight H (hard) to B (soft)
Compressed Charcoal. Compressed charcoal, when sold in
sticks, is usually shaped into larger sticks than uncompressed
charcoal. Compressed charcoal may be sharpened to a point and is
less messy than uncompressed charcoal. Compressed charcoal is
rated for hardness, and is sold in extra soft, soft, medium, and hard
A crayon is a stick of coloured wax, charcoal, chalk, or other
materials used for writing and drawing. A crayon made of oiled
chalk is called an oil pastel; when made of pigment with a dry
binder, it is simply a pastel. A grease pencil (UK china graph
pencil) is made of coloured hardened grease and is useful for
marking on hard, glossy surfaces such as porcelain or glass.
Pastels use only lightfast pigments. Pastels which have used
pigments which change colour or tone when exposed to light have
suffered the same problems as can be seen in some oil paintings
using the same pigment.
Stick and ink can be used for drawing, on the end of a long stick
you place a sponge, this sponge is dipped into ink and then drawn
with. The length away from the paper creates imperfect lines and
promotes deeper concentration to the task. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-are-charcoal-pencils.htm
MARK MAKING ACTIVITY
The importance of mark
EXPLORATION OF LINE & TONE making
•Exploring the creation
This work is an excellent example of mark making within Piper‟s of mark through different
work. Using stick and ink Piper has created movement, texture and materials allows children
depth. to get a feel for the
material they are
Simple activities can be done in the Primary classroom using a working with.
variety of different materials , it is often a misconception that mark
•Without activities such
making need be limited to pencil or chalk and charcoal.
as this experimentation
A simple activity that is very effective is to use sticks is limited and often
– lengths of bamboo or anything shorter, with sponges
creating a final piece.
attached, dipped in ink to draw with.
•This activity can be
repeated in order to
familiarise children with
almost any material.
pencil, charcoal and
chalk, pastels, stick and
ink, watercolour, acrylic
16 and other types of paint.
Refer to Newhaven 1937 (Piper in the
30‟s) & Scan
EXPLORATION OF TONE
This simple shading exercise was taken from the website www.about.com On this website there are many step by
step tutorials including; shading, drawing, easy draw eyes and more.
A simple pencil greyscale is your first step in getting control of your pencil
shading. Draw a ladder grid of five one-inch squares. Using the tip of a sharp
pencil, shade the first as dark as you can, and the last as light as you can.
Shade the remaining squares in even steps between the two, so that the
middle square is a good mid-tone. Try this with a range of pencils - from 6B
through to 2H - so that you can see the range of tone that can be achieved
with each one. A Simple Pencil Greyscale
Try doing a seven-step greyscale. A B or 2B pencil should give you the full
seven steps, though you may need to manipulate it a little to get the very
lightest tones, erasing lightly and reworking. For a really effective
greyscale, use harder and softer pencils to get the lighter and darker
shades, overlaying differing grades to get the transitional tones. Try printing
out a computer greyscale to use as a reference. Seven Step Shading
Practice doing gradual, continuous shading from light to dark and vice versa.
Try using different pencil techniques, using parallel shading, hatching in
various directions or small circles to find which works best for you. Use a
single pencil, and also try using a combination of pencils. Don't use your
fingers to blend tones, but use layered shading and controlled pressure to
create the variation.
Change your approach.
When creating a tonal drawing, you need to somehow get the children to shift out of line-drawing mode, and the best way to do this
is to not allow them to draw lines, and focus on areas of value. Start off with a contour drawing using the lightest of lines to get 17
down the basic shapes. From there, build up the shading in the drawing, at first lightly then building up the darks. Practicing tone
with examples such as the three greyscales here are a great way to get the children into the habit of changing pencil pressure and
using continual shading.
Primary colours are three key colours which
cannot be made from any other colour –
Red, Blue and Yellow.
When mixing an equal amount of primary colour
you get secondary colours, which are
Purple, Orange and Green.
Red + Yellow = Orange
Red + Blue = Purple
Blue + Yellow = Green Example of colour wheel
Cool v. Hot
On the left hand side of the colour wheel you find the warm or hot and on
the right hand side are cool or cold. It is useful to look at this when
creating a cosier or lighter space.
This is the easiest group of colours, or non-colours to work with. Neutrals
don't appear on the colour wheel and include Black, Grey, White and
sometime Brown and Beige. Neutral colours all go together and can be
layered, mixed and matched as no neutral colour will try to dominate over
Click here to be taken to an online
lesson on shades of colour Click here for a colour
wheel activity 18
Click here to be taken to an online
Monochromatic lesson. (one colour)
Paint may be applied by flipping the paint, dripping, or by
PAINTING RESOURCES dipping an object in paint.
Acrylic paint is fast-drying paint containing pigment suspended in an acrylic polymer
emulsion. Acrylic paints can be diluted with water, but become water-resistant when
dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted (with water) or modified with acrylic
gels, mediums, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolour or
an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with the other
media. Suitable for both Key Stages 1 and 2.
Powder paint is a cheap and very easy to use substance. Costing around £5 for 2Kg it
is made from quality pigments finely ground and evenly dispersed to produce brilliance
and strength of colour. The powder mixes readily to the required creamy consistency
with water. Best for Key Stage 1 with the appropriate cautions taken for cross
contamination of colours and sturdy water pots.
Watercolour refers to paints that use water soluble, complex carbohydrates as a binder.
Modern commercial watercolour paints are available in two forms: tubes or pans and are
formulated to a consistency similar to toothpaste. Easy to use, perhaps better for Key
Stage 2 rather than 1.
Block paint is typically the most popular paint used in primary schools. It is cheap but
the cost compensates for its functionality. Easily cross contaminated and unable to
provide experimentation with texture or consistency easily it is the least useful of the
paints described here.
Brushes are important to the explore as are paints. Canvas has become the most common support medium
Different thicknesses can be used for different uses. for oil painting, replacing wooden panels. Canvas can be
There are nylon, sable and hair brushes available. reused, painted over time and time again. Although it
Most used in schools are nylon as they are less looses quality when painted over each time. Suitable for
expensive. use for all ages and abilities in school. 19
Click here to see and article on art in
schools: “Painting, putting boys off art.”
EXPLORATION OF COLOUR
The colour palette of Piper‟s work is generally quite neutral, these examples here show an
entire piece in one shade (The Royal Pavilion, Brighton), one in dark with a hint of colour
(All Saints Chapel, Bath) and one much lighter with additions of colour to the edges (The
House of Pride).
Other examples showing colour in Piper‟s work are that of „House of Pride‟ shown first The House of Pride 1943
here, Piper has used hints of gold within the piece and then framed it with colour. In
contrast his painting „All Saint‟s Chapel‟ is centred with colour and surrounded by a
darkened frame of colour.
The colours in Piper‟s „Royal Pavilion‟ are all very neutral and created from one shade. An
exercise on colour mixing that works well with children exploring one colour and one shade
is that of a simple colour mixing activity.
Below is s sketchbook example of exploring the colour blue:
The Royal Pavilion, Brighton. 1939
EXPLORATION OF COLOUR
The colour mixing activity illustrated here allows
children to grasp an idea of the capabilities of one
colour and the possibilities surrounding use of
All Saints Chapel, Bath 1942
An activity that would help children to understand and
relate to the use of one colour through varying tone is 20
to get them to create their own image, perhaps copy
that of Piper‟s, and use only one colour in varying A neutral colour palette
Display the class with any of Piper‟s After embarking
works, preferable a piece with detail on colour mixing
covering the entire image, for example activities the
the second image here rather than the children in your
first. class should be
to blending in order
Lead discussion on the to make many
painting, techniques and content then shades of one
divide the image into equal sections to colour.
the number of children in the class.
John Piper has
Each child is to take their section and
several paintings of
colouring and the
These sections are then to be pieced
back together to recreate the original. A possible activity
The results can be very rewarding could be to
providing the class an opportunity to replicate one of his
work individually initially and together paintings or to use
to finish. an image, perhaps
a photograph, and
paint it in the same
This picture shows the above activity style of John Piper.
in practice using Van Gough‟s Starry
Night. Planned and created over two
lessons. Year 5/6 mixed year group. 21
A TRIP TO THE BEACH
Living in a location such as Plymouth, or any seaside
city or town, an invaluable resource is on the doorstep.
Many of Piper‟s paintings are inspired by the beach and
Taking a class to the beach to see these elements first
hand gives them an engaging connection to the content
of his paintings.
Considering the styles and techniques used by Piper
many activities can be conducted while at the beach.
ACTIVITIES FOR THE BEACH
This pencil drawing
shows ideas working
towards Piper‟s beach
The location of this
scene is St
Ives, Cornwall – a
possible destination for
a residential trip or for 22
a local school a day.
BENEFITS OF THE TRIP
There are many benefits of a in the Primary Curriculum
The ability to see, touch and walk around object that the
children are studying.
A first hand experience of the chosen environment rather than
relying on secondary sources for information.
This first hand experience allows children to receive and
interpret information on their own rather than using someone
else‟s opinion – be in the teacher‟s or an authors etc.
Social interaction with all of the class (and other classes)
building confidence levels in those quieter children and helping
them to make friends.
LINKS ACROSS THE CURRICULUM
Historical links to World War II. John Piper was the official war
Piper is most well know for his landscapes and architecture –
links to historical sites, National Trust properties, structure and
Literature links to Piper‟s magazine, during WWII he worked
closely with poets and war writers.
Local History links to Churches and landmarks, these could
also be connected to Geography, PSHE, Citizenship and
Many methods of artistry are covered by Piper‟s works, these
can be used to introduce the methods in the classroom with a
JOHN PIPER AS A RESOURCE
John Piper was a very eclectic artist, he worked over many decades
touching upon many mediums and styles. From his works alone
schemes of work for an entire year could be created, the methods
and styles are diverse enough to cover drawing, painting, printing
and three dimensional work.
As well as creating art works he created his own magazine with his
wife, there are even more possibilities for cross curricular links
relating to journal writing, instructions and skills while linking to
Piper and his works.