book

Year 4 Visual Arts

visual arts owl

Filling a Space

the gleaners

An artist begins in two dimensions - height and width - and creates something that looks like it has three dimensions: height, width and depth. How does a painter make something that looks round, or thick, or deep, or far away? We can use light to help us do this, or we can use another technique.

Try this experiment. Look out of a window. Some of the things you see are farther away than others. Those things appear smaller, and they may be partially blocked from your view by other things that are closer to you. Next time you are in a park, have a look at the things closest to you. Can you see some trees close by, and more trees farther away? Can you see anything beyond the trees, such as buildings? How clear are those things? The trees far away are not as clear, and their colours are not as bright. They seem smaller, even though you know that they are as big as the tree closer to you.

What you are seeing can be divided into three parts:

Many paintings also have a foreground, background and middle ground. For example, let's look at a farm scene called The Gleaners, painted by the French artist Jean-François Millet [MILay].

The central figures in the painting are three women who are gleaning, which means gathering what is left in a field after the harvest. Millet makes you focus on the women by placing them in the foreground, larger and more brightly coloured than anything else in the painting. While their faces are not visible, you can see the detail of their clothes and the stalks they hold in their hands.


This activity is adapted from pages 181-182 of What Your Year 4 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.

Click below to see related activities:

art owl
art owl