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PrimaryArt & Design

KS2 art – create a self-portrait inspired by mythological beasts

Get creative with LKS2 and invent your own Ancient Greek-inspired creatures, based on illustrations by Victoria Topping…

Mandy Barrett
by Mandy Barrett
DOWNLOAD A FREE RESOURCE! Myths and legends KS2 – Explore Ancient Greece with these drama activities

We are always looking for ways to link our creative projects with other subjects, as this is an ideal way to reinforce learning throughout the curriculum.

Our Year 3 children have been learning about Ancient Greece and were also looking at a range of artists and illustrators who have been inspired by artwork from the past.

We decided to base a short art project on the book Mythologica, written by Stephen Kershaw and illustrated by Victoria Topping. 

This title is full of wonderful, vibrant images that really sparked our children’s imaginations. 

1. Greek art KS2

Begin the project by reading a range of Greek mythological stories, and spending some time learning about the different characters.

We used a variety of books and websites and watched videos, to find out about the myths, and there’s plenty out there to choose from.

Next, get children to discuss the stories and characters in small groups and brainstorm what they have learned, creating a mood board of their ideas. 

2. Mythologica

Then, focus on the book Mythologica, reading the stories and looking carefully at the illustrations created by Victoria Topping.

We also explored her website and studied a range of her illustrations, spending time discussing her style and wondering how she might have created her images.

We all liked the bright and vivid colours that she uses in her work.  

3. Create creatures

Now let the children spend time planning what type of mythological creature they would like to be.

What would they look like? Would they have any special powers or a specific personality?

Then ask them to work together to take photographs of each other in different poses using an iPad.

How would their creature stand? How can they use the iPad to create different photographs? From which angle should they take the shot? Do they want to include full body or just head and shoulders? 

4. Victoria Topping illustrations

Print the photographs out onto either A3 or A4 paper, in colour or black and white (let the children choose).

Then get them to cut out their photographs and fix them onto background paper using glue – you can use sturdy card, or even coloured paper if desired. Again, you can let them choose their background.

Provide them with paint, oils pastels, felt pens and crayons to begin working into the image to emulate Victoria Topping’s style .

Children should carefully consider the layout of their work and the colour choice of materials. 

5. Greek gods and goddesses

Once the children have finished creating the background, leave the work to dry. You can use acrylic paint pens, oil pastels and permanent markers to add the finer details.

My class added small icons and images to their creature, and different patterns into the background.

These were all inspired by icons and images found within Ancient Greek artwork.

Finally, let the children choose a name for their new character. E.g., God of sunlight and happiness – Goddess of laughter and mischief.  

Mandy Barrett is a specialist art teacher at Gomersal Primary School, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire. See more projects on Twitter @GomersalArt

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