Notes of Lessons: A Talk About Original Illustrations, Class II

Notes of Lessons: A Talk About Original Illustrations, Class II

[We have thought that it might be of use to our readers (in their own families) to publish from month to month during the current year, Notes of Lessons prepared by students of the House of Education for the pupils of the Practising School. We should like to say, however, that such a Lesson is never given as a tour de force, but is always an illustration or an expansion of some part of the children’s regular studies (in the Parents’ Review School), some passage in one or other of their school books.—Ed.]

Group: ArtAge: 9 to 11Time: 25 to 30 minutes

By Lillian Lees
The Parents’ Review, 1903, pp. 228-229

A Talk about Original Illustrations


I. To give to the children some idea of composition, based on the work of the artist Jean François Millet.

II. To inspire them with a desire to study the works of other artists, with a similar object in view.

III. To help them with their original illustrations, by giving them ideas, carried out in Millet’s work, as to simplicity of treatment, breadth of tone and use of lines.

Materials Needed

See that the children are provided with paint boxes, brushes, water, pencils, rulers, india-rubber and paper.

Photographs of Millet’s pictures.

A picture-book by R. Caldecott.


Step I.—Introduce the subject by talking with the children about their original illustrations. Tell them how our great artists have drawn ideas and inspiration from the work of other artists; have studied their pictures, copied them and tried to get at the spirit of them.

Tell them that to-day we are going to study some of the pictures of the great French artist, Millet, some of whose works Mr. Yates has drawn for us on the walls of our Millet room; considering them to be models of true art.

Step II.—Tell the children a little about the life of Millet (giving them one or two pictures to look at meanwhile), give only a brief sketch, so that they will feel that he is not a stranger to them.

Just talk to them a little about his early childhood; how he worked in the fields; how he had two great books—the Book of Nature and the Bible, from which he drew much inspiration; how later on he went to Paris and studied the pictures of great artists, Michael Angelo among them.

Step III.—Show the pictures to the children, let them look well at them, and then draw from them their ideas as to the beauty and simplicity of the composition, the breadth of tone, and the dignity of the lines. Help them, sketching when necessary, to reduce a picture to its most simple form; half-closing their eyes to shut out detail, help them to get an idea of the masses of tone, &c. Tell them that a picture is a design on a large scale.

Step IV.—Let the children reproduce one of the pictures, working in water-colour with monochrome and making their washes simple and flat, reducing the tones to two or three.

Step V.—Suggest to them to study the works of other artists in a similar way, and show them how the books of R. Caldecott will help them in making their figures look as if they are moving.