Altered Parliament House 1, 1976, by Jan Senbergs depicts Old Parliament House in Canberra, where the Australian Government sat until 1988. At the top the building appears clean, white and ordered, but as your eye moves down it becomes fragmented and the colours change to green, brown and black. Senbergs’s use of diagonal lines and dark colours create a sense of disorder and a dark mood, suggesting that the government is not as honest and pure as it would like to appear.
Harry Rosengrave’s Country village, 1952, is a naive and childlike print, which utilises curving lines and bright colours to make the landscape feel alive and joyful. The rough black lines are enhanced by blocks of flat colours including blue, yellow, purple and green.
Share the related works of art with students and use the following prompts with your class to discuss how and why artists create and capture mood in their depiction of landscapes.
- How do different environments affect the way you feel? Can your feelings change the way you perceive an environment?
A bright room might make you feel happy and optimistic, while a dark space might make you feel gloomy or reflective.
- Describe the colours in both works (for example, bright, muted, gloomy). Why did the artists use these colours?
- Describe the types of lines the artists use (for example, sharp, curvy, smooth, rough). Why did the artists choose this kind of line?
- Examine both works, which parts look realistic and which are altered? Discuss how and why the artists have altered or emphasised reality.
Share the examples of student work with your class and draw attention to the distorted lines of the buildings, the use of colour and tonal/colour gradients. Students then design and create their own painting of a distorted place through the following steps:
- Sketch your school, home or a city scene.
Try using different perspectives, such as standing close and looking up, looking through spaces, looking down from up high, and looking up from down low.
- Draw your design onto a piece of A3 cartridge paper.
Make the straight lines either curved or rotated on an angle to create a feeling of softness or liveliness.
- On a spare piece of paper practice blending paint to create a gradient between two different colours.
Gradients (from dark to light or from one colour to another) can be used to create more drama in your painting.
- Use blended gradients to paint the background and/or some of the shapes in your design.
Try using complementary colours in your design, like red and green, blue and orange or yellow and purple.
- Outline the buildings and details of the painting in black paint using a fine brush.