Kate Mitchell: Pastel Vases

Artwork Focus: ‘Inks – Working it Out’ (2019)

Suitable for: F-2

Kate Mitchell: Pastel Vases Image

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Kate Mitchell is an interdisciplinary artist working in video, performance, drawing and public interventions (which involve audience participation). Her themes often explore social and gender roles, including perceptions of labour and productivity. In ‘Working it Out’, Mitchell has created a series of ink drawings of highly decorative vases and flower arrangements made in pastel tones, a quality which appears frequently in her practice. The drawings are also incorporated within her video work, which aims to question women’s strength and their position within a domestic space. In this activity students will learn to make pastel colours, apply a range of painting techniques and cut out shapes to construct a vase influenced by Mitchell’s recurring motifs.




ACAVAM107 – Experiment with painting techniques, composition and design in constructing a vase image.
ACAVAR109 – Respond to Kate Mitchell’s practice recognising formal choices and imagery. Discuss vase uses and iconography within ancient and contemporary history.




Step 1: Show students ceramic vases throughout history including Greek pottery, antique Victorian ceramics and kitsch contemporary pieces. Discuss the purpose of vases throughout history. What could a vase mean? What images, colours and designs have been similar or different on the vases. Students should draw an example of each era in their books.

Step 2: Show students the drawing works of Kate Mitchell’s ‘Working it Out’. Ask students what stylistic traits they notice.

Step 3: Draw a vase shape on A3 paper. Older students should learn about the construction of form in building a 3D object. Younger students may instead fold a piece of A3 paper in half and draw half the vase, which can then be cut out symmetrically. Alternatively the teacher may draw this design.

Step 4: Demonstrate colour mixing, including how to make tints or pastel colours by adding white.

Step 5: Paint the back of the drawn vase in one pastel colour as the ‘base’ of the vase.

Step 6: Paint 2-3 sheets of A5 paper in a range of pastel colours. On one, students should add a scraffito pattern using the back of a paintbrush or a stick. On a second, paint directionally with a white on the brush to create tone and texture. On a third, add oil pastel patterns in a colour on top once dried.

Step 7: Students cut out the shape of their vase. Students can trace the vase shape on the back of their 2-3 sheets of A5 paper and draw patterns to cut out as a design for their vase. Students may also swap colours and pieces with their peers.

Step 8: Demonstrate how colours and patterns can be arranged compositionally before gluing into place.

Step 9: Vases can be cut out or stuck to a backing for presentation.



Materials & Equipment

  • Found photos, newspaper, book pages, magazines
  • PA107 A3 Ream Cartridge Paper 130gsm
  • BR321 Taklon Brush Round Size 6
  • BR320 Taklon Brush Round Size 4
  • PK015 Water Pots 5pk
  • PK213 Daisy Palette
  • PT209-WH Zart SC White Paint 250mL
  • PT209-KIT Zart SC Paint Set 250mL 5pk
  • SC013 Scissors
  • AA280 Glue Stick 35g



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