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Painting a Picture

Lessons from art

by Revd Alan M. Barker (revised, originally published in 2003)

Suitable for Whole School (Pri)


To celebrate how painting and colour can express human moods and values.

Preparation and materials

  • You will need some art materials, such as paper, paints, palettes and brushes. If possible, have available different types of paint, such as watercolour, oil and acrylic.

  • Prior to the assembly, invite members of a Foundation/KS1 class to bring some of their paintings to the assembly. If KS2 children are studying the work of a particular artist, this assembly could provide an opportunity for them to present some of their work. Alternatively, you could use a copy or poster of one of your favourite pictures.

  • Have available the following images and the means to display them during the assembly:

    - a cave painting, available at:
    - art in Egyptian tombs, available at: and
    - religious paintings, available at:
    - the Mona Lisa, available at:
    - a landscape painting, available at:
    - a war painting, available at:

  • Optional: you may wish to have available the YouTube video ‘I had a paint box’ and the means to play it at the end of the assembly. It is 3.19 minutes long and is available at:


  1. Place the art materials on a table to act as a point of focus.

    Explain that there are different kinds of paint, such as watercolour, oil and acrylic. Watercolours are used on paper, whereas oils require a stiff canvas. Colours can be mixed on a paint tray or palette.

  2. Ask if any of the children know which colours can be mixed together to make other colours.

    - Red + White = Pink
    - Red + Yellow = Orange
    - Blue + Yellow = Green
    - Red + Blue = Violet

  3. Point out that there are large and small brushes, some hard and others soft, some thick and others fine. Each type of brush is used at different times for different parts of the painting.

  4. Suggest that such bright and varied materials might make anyone wish to paint a picture.

    Say to the children, ‘I’d like to paint a picture,’ but then ask, ‘What shall I paint?’

    Invite suggestions from the children. What would they paint?

  5. Introduce the KS1 paintings, or KS2 work, if it is available.

    Discuss the use of colour, the choices of subject and the mood that a painting can evoke.

    Alternatively, display your chosen painting and explain why it is a favourite.

  6. Reflect that painting has always been important to human beings.

    Show the image of a cave painting.

    Thousands of years ago, when people lived in caves, they painted pictures on the walls of the caves, showing the animals that they hunted.

    Show the images of art in Egyptian tombs.

    Beautiful paintings decorating Egyptian tombs have been found.

    Show the image of religious paintings.

    For many centuries in Europe, artists were employed by the Church, and they painted religious subjects. As time has passed, a greater variety of styles and subjects has developed.

    Show the image of the Mona Lisa and a landscape painting.

    Paintings of people are called ‘portraits’ and those of the countryside are called ‘landscapes’.

    Show the image of a war painting.

    Some paintings reflect experiences of war and suffering (images that we often see on television today). Others show scenes of beauty and happiness.

Time for reflection

Invite the children to consider what kind of world they would like to paint.

Listen to a range of responses.

Invite the children to close their eyes to imagine their perfect picture as you say the following prayer.

God of shape and colour,
We celebrate your bright and vibrant world.
Blend our lives together
so that we can add to its beauty
and live together in harmony,
today and every day.


‘I’m going to paint’ (Come and Praise, 83)

Optional: ‘I had a paint box’, available at:

Publication date: June 2018   (Vol.20 No.6)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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