Workshop instructions


Watch in Mandarin

Related artworks


Blue and white pottery includes a wide range of white pottery and porcelain that is decorated under the glaze with a blue pigment, generally cobalt oxide. The decorative designs are usually applied by hand, traditionally by brush painting. Look at the related porcelain pieces from Asia and use the following discussion prompts to explore examples of blue and white pottery with your class:

  • Looking at the time and place of creation, how would these pieces have been used when they were first created? What clues can you see in the artwork about where it was made, who by, and why?
  • What are the key motifs (or ideas) expressed in these paintings on porcelain? What do they have in common and how are they different?
  • Describe the quality and character of the lines evident in the decorative design painted on one of the pieces.
    Are the lines thick or thin? Are they continuous or broken? In which direction do they move? How do they guide your eye around the piece?
  • Look for areas of tonal variation. Discuss why the artist applied the underglaze blue lightly in some areas and darker in others. What effect has this approach had on the overall presentation of the design?
  • Which tools and techniques might the artist have used to achieve the aesthetic qualities in their painted designs?

Resources & materials

  • Porcelain vessel templates (draw the outline of a selection of jugs, pots and vases onto watercolour paper)
  • Drawing paper
  • Extra watercolour paper for testing and sampling ink
  • Blue (indigo) ink
  • Brushes
  • Palettes
  • Water
  • Scissors


Students design and create a patterned house inspired by Howard Arkley using the following steps:

  1. Make two copies of your facade template.
    One will act as a stencil for the collage, while the other will be a master copy for reference as you make your collage.
  2. Identify all the key components of the house.
    For example, roof, gutters, chimney, walls, window frames and window glass.
  3. Consider which components you intend to recreate with flat coloured paper and those which will be filled with patterned paper.
    Aim for a balance of flat colour and patterned throughout your facade. Consider how many different colours and patterns you will use and how you will place them throughout your work.
  4. Plan your design by lightly shading the components of the house onto your master template using coloured pencils.
    Consider how your choice of colours can communicate feeling – what do you want people to think or feel when they look at your finished artwork?
    Don’t worry about being too neat for this part, as this is just a plan.
  5. Collect a range of coloured and patterned paper for your collage and choose a piece for the background of the collage.
  6. Select a piece of paper for the largest component of your house.
    Don’t get too fiddly yet. Remember that Howard Arkley always started with bigger, broader areas before adding smaller, finer details.
  7. Place the component from your stencil template onto the paper, and trace around it.
  8. Carefully cut around the shape and place it onto your background paper.
    Don’t glue it down just yet.
  9. Repeat this process (steps 6–8) for all the components of the house, moving from the largest to smallest sections.
  10. When all the pieces have been cut and placed, glue them down onto the background paper.
    Refer to the master copy of your facade template to make sure you have placed all the components of the house in the right place.
  11. Let your collage dry.
  12. Use a thick black marker and a ruler to mark the outlines which separate all the components of the house.

Present & reflect

Ask students to share their work with a partner:

  • What did you consider when you chose your paper samples?
  • Do you think you created a balanced composition? If so, how does your selection of paper create a balanced composition? If not, how could you change your work to improve the balance between colours and patterns?
  • What do you hope people will think or feel when they look at your finished artwork?
  • Is this a house you would like to live in? Why or why not?

Student examples