Sidney Nolan Paintings
Term: 1 Year: 2009
Early in 2008 our Year 10 Art students were taken to Federation Square to view the “Retrospective Exhibition
of Sidney Nolan”.
Upon arriving the students were given an hour lecture /slide show on Nolan’s collection and how it appeared
in the four main areas/themes. After this they then had the opportunity to view the exhibition in full. The
students were really inspired by both Nolan’s work and his use of subject matter, materials and techniques.
Prior to going to the Exhibition, Nolan’s work was discussed in a couple of classes and students were asked
to collect and research any two of his works as well as back-up written information for further discussion
in class. The students were well informed before attending the exhibition.
When they returned to class it was time to put all this wonderful knowledge to work and start their paintings.
Students were asked to focus on a particular area of Nolan’s work keeping in mind what they had seen
and researched. They were then asked to gather (at least 4-5) and make photocopies of a selection of Nolan’s
images in a particular area/theme and use these as a basis for their collage of images, making these exciting
and aesthetically pleasing.
Students spent quite a few lessons on trialling a variety of materials and techniques (at least 6 on loose paper) using the
book “Arteffects” by Jean Drysdale Green printed by Watson-Guptill, published in New York. This
book is an excellent resource for students to loosen up and try new mediums and techniques. If you don’t
have a copy, it would be worthwhile investigating the possibility of purchasing one.
Some of the areas they trialled were:
- Pen and Ink- ink using masking materials, ink and wash, ink and glad wrap, incorporating sand with pen
- Marbling- using oil paint on water, silk with acrylic inks, solvent based inks and directly on to canvas.
Creating texture- using marble dust, impasto, pumas powder, plastic wrap, waxed paper, using the microwave oven with ink
and plastic wrap, wall paper paste, seaweed, wax crayon, rice, rock salt, egg shells, tissue paper
and removing colour with masking tape.
- Oil sticks- ink over oil pastels and then scratched through (as we all did in primary school), drawing
with oil sticks, oil stick with oil pastels, oil sticks as sgraffito and oil sticks on newspaper/collage.
- Monoprinting- directly on to canvas, sticking pieces of Cartridge on to small bits of canvas and printing
with these after they were dry.
- There were many more such as, charcoal, newspaper and charcoal, I could go on forever.
I am sure many Art teachers have used a lot of these in their teaching, but it was how the students combined
these that made their paintings so interesting. It was also very interesting to observe how they fed off
each other, as each student trialled some thing new (a real studio atmosphere). Before they started their
paintings, they were all asked to make a small mock-up on Cartridge Paper of their choice of colour schemes,
materials and techniques. This gave the students a better insight of how their final piece might look.
Overall, the paintings were a wonderful achievement as not many of the students had worked on canvas before and
they were really excited at this prospect. It’s sometimes hard to keep students focused and fully challenged
throughout a lengthy project such as this one; however, the more they got into their paintings, the more
they really enjoyed what they were doing! Many came in at lunch times and recess (before the lesson started),
so that could maximize their output in each session.
If any teachers have any further queries on any particular aspect of this project please feel free to contact
me at school on 0398743422.