Workshop instructions

Related artworks


Look at the related works of art and use the following discussion prompts to explore ideas with your class:

  • Which feelings does each work show or elicit? What choices did the artist make to create those feelings?
    Consider the type of animal, use of colour, expression, the scale and focus of the image.
  • How does our personal experience of animals change how we view the images?
    Consider your exposure to animals or stories where animals play a major part. What role do the animals play?
  • Animals are sometimes used by artists to represent human qualities, this is called ‘anthropomorphism’. Which human qualities or characteristics are suggested in the related works?
  • Which angles or views did the artist use, for example a close-up or an aerial view? Why did they use this angle?

Resources & materials

  • A4 sketching paper
  • Black A3 cartridge paper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Water pots
  • Palettes or trays for mixing paint
  • Grey lead pencil
  • Images of animals (preferably close-up)
  • Viewfinders in various sizes (a square or rectangular window cut into a piece of paper)


Students design and create their artwork following these steps:

  1. Choose an image of an animal that appeals to you.
    Consider what quality or feeling you are trying to portray.
  2. Place a viewfinder over the image and choose a section of the image to focus your painting on.
    Try zooming in on the eyes or face, or turning the viewfinder to create unusual angles for extra drama.
  3. Sketch your composition onto black A3 paper with pencil.
    Only sketch the part of the image which is framed by your viewfinder.
  4. Paint your animal.
    Start from the darkest colours and progress to the lightest.
    Use brushstrokes to show the direction and texture of the fur or feathers.
    Layer your brushstrokes to build up colour.
    You might like to introduce some brighter colours for dramatic effect, like Marc Chagall did in his painting The lion and the rat, 1926.
  5. Allow your work to dry.
  6. Mount your composition onto a larger piece of cover paper.

Present & reflect

Students can share their portrait with a partner or the group, considering:

  • Which animal did you choose and why? Which mood or feeling does your work create?
  • How did you take inspiration from the works from the NGV Collection when creating your own work?
  • What decisions did you make to make the composition more effective?

Student examples