Art Sets.

Brett Whiteley: significant places

By the Art Gallery of NSW


ART SET CREATED BY: Jane Lancaster, Teacher MLC School Burwood

FOCUS AREA Brett Whiteley’s paintings of Australia


FORMS Drawing, painting and mixed media


Students will investigate significant places in Australia represented by Brett Whiteley, with a specific focus on his images of the desert, the beach, the bush and Sydney. They will investigate a variety of Whiteley’s landscapes, using a sensory approach to describe their experiences of the artworks.

Students will investigate the effects created by different types of lines in their drawings. They will develop their painting skills and explore a variety of experimental techniques, such as splatter and drip painting.



Visual Arts plays a significant role in how meaning is made in peoples’ lives. It offers students the opportunity for personal expression, enjoyment, creative action, imagination, emotional response, aesthetic pleasure and the creation of shared meaning. In the longer term, learning in visual arts assists students in their lifelong learning, – encouraging them to participate in and contribute to cultural life and to become informed consumers of the arts and culture.
(Board of Studies NSW 2000 Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus pp.6-7)

In Visual Arts, students develop knowledge and understanding, skills, values and attitudes in Making and Appreciating by engaging with the concepts of artists, artworks, the audience and the world. In Making they learn how they can investigate the world through selected subject matter (eg. People, objects, places and spaces) and work with the forms (eg. Painting, drawing, digital works) in expressive ways.

These investigations of subject matter and the forms are further developed in their appreciation of artists, designers, craftspeople, architects and their works. Learning in visual arts is most effective when learning experiences in making and appreciating are integrated in a planned and sequential teaching and learning process.

Teaching and learning experiences may begin with a focus on either making, appreciating, subject matter, a form, particular artists, selected artworks, audiences or the world – offering multiple approaches to the visual arts to enhance students’ learning.
(Board of Studies NSW 2000 Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus p.10)


This Visual Arts program is designed to enable students to gain increasing understanding and accomplishment in the visual arts. It also encourages appreciation for the meanings and values that visual arts offers personally, - culturally, - and as a form of communication.

In Visual Arts, students will develop knowledge, skills and understandings by;
- making artworks informed by their investigations of the world as subject matter, use of expressive forms, and consideration of the audience for their works
- appreciating their own artworks and those of others, recognising the roles of artists and audiences and how the world can be interpreted

(Board of Studies NSW 2000 Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus p.8)


Students in Stage 2 will learn to:
- develop their artistic intentions in artmaking and consider how these affect the look of the work, its details and an audience’s response
- select and explore different aspects of subject matter in particular ways in their making of artworks
- use particular artistic traditions guided by the teacher’s instruction in artmaking and experiment with techniques, tools and graphic schema (eg in drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and digital works)
- interpret the meaning of artworks by taking into account relationships between the artwork, the world and the artist

Students in Stage 2 will learn about:
- how artists, including themselves, have intentions that affect the look of the work and its details
- how artists think about what an audience may think about their work when they make art
- how artists, including themselves, can interpret the world in particular ways in their artmaking
- traditions associated with different forms such as drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking and digital works
- how pictures and other artworks invite interpretations from audiences
(Board of Studies NSW 2000 Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus p.56)


Represents the qualities of experiences and things that are interesting or beautiful by choosing among aspects of subject matter
Uses the forms to suggest the qualities of subject matter

Acknowledges that artists make artworks for different reasons and that various interpretations are possible
Identifies connections between subject matter in artworks and what they refer to, and appreciates the use of particular techniques.
(Board of Studies NSW 2000 Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus p.30)


Assessment is based on the Visual Arts learning outcomes, as outlined in the Creative Arts K-6 Syllabus. A variety of assessment strategies are used to give students the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and understandings about artists and artworks and the skills connected to the unit of work they have undertaken.

Anecdotal information collected during oral and written Art Appreciation sessions assists in the assessment of students’ prior knowledge as well as their visual literacy skills. The students’ preliminary sketches inform initial assessments ‘for’ learning. Interactions with students foster deeper insights into their capabilities, ‘as’ they are learning. The students’ artworks are testimony to their learning. The analysis of their work samples, using outcomes and indicators, is the basis for the assessment ‘of’ learning.

Summative assessment is based on rubrics for Art Making and Art Appreciating, which form the basis of formal reporting. Students are also encouraged to assess their own learning, making judgements about the qualities of finished works and works in progress based on the intentions of a unit of work, outcomes and indicators.


What were the strengths and weaknesses of the program?
How can this project be adapted for the future?




VAS2.3, VAS2.4

Students learn about:
- Brett Whiteley’s images of significant places in Australia and iconic landmarks in Whiteley’s paintings
- creating visual representations of Australian landmarks, by working in small groups and using their bodies to form shapes.

Students learn to:
- observe Brett Whiteley’s artworks and to orally describe the subject matter, style and colours in his artworks of significant places
- compare and contrast Whiteley’s artworks to photographs of the iconic landmarks that feature in his works and discuss how each feature reflects the original landform or building
- photograph the students’ representations of Australian landmarks made through body formations, using iPads
- use the 8 - Way Thinking strategy to use their senses to reflect on one of the suggested artworks by Brett Whiteley
- explore the sights, nature, people, words, feelings, action, sounds and numbers associated with the chosen artwork and record their responses for each aspect of thinking


Artworks by Brett Whiteley
Laptop, projector, iPads, 8 - Way Thinking framework for students




Students learn about:
- the landscape of Australia by listening to the story The outback by Annaliese Porter and Bronwyn Bancroft
- the diverse landscapes within Australia by observing the images in the texts The Outback and Why I Love Australia, observing Bancroft’s technique and use of pattern
- well known Australian natural landforms through photographs, videos and artworks
- Whiteley’s use of shape and size to capture a sense of scale

Students learn to:
- draw a simple outline of a significant landscape in Australia onto A3 cartridge paper
- trace drawings using permanent black marker
- separate the rock formations into sections and create layers in the earth to represent sedimentary layers or changes in the texture of the rocks
- create decorative patterns in each section of the rocks, using permanent marker to create strong effects with different types of lines
- colour some features of the composition solidly with black eg. barren trees
- create patterns in the sun or grasses
- add colour to the rocks and sun by using warm, earthy toned oil pastels
- create cloud effects by rubbing, flicking or smudging white oil pastels in the sky
- paint over the earth and the rocks using red, orange and yellow Edicol dyes, allow it to dry and then paint the sky using a contrasting sky blue dye


The outback by Annaliese Porter and Bronwyn Bancroft
Why I Love Australia by Bronwyn Bancroft
A3 cartridge paper, black markers, oil pastels in warm and neutral colours, red, orange, yellow and blue Edicol dye




Students learn about:
- the characteristic features of a beach landscape by examining photos of beach scenes - water, sand, waves
- subject matter found on a beach by listening to the story Magic beach by Alison Lester or the text At the beach by Roland Harvey
- Brett Whiteley’s images of the beach
- warm-toned colours that represent the sand and objects in a beach environment – such as red oxide, brown, ochre and beige by observing photos and reproductions of beach paintings
- the curved, fluid lines of the shoreline, where the sea meets the sand, by observing the line in Whiteley's artworks
- cool colours that represent wet environments eg. tones of blue and green

Students learn to:
- select colours used by Whiteley in his beach landscapes by selecting paint samples in buckets – one for the colours of the sand and one for the colours of the sea
- identify colours used by Whiteley for water and sand using creative terms for the colours (eg. peacock blue, mustard brown).


The beach or images of beaches

Magic beach by Alison Lester
At the beach by Roland Harvey

Buckets, paint swatch samples of sea and sand tones


Water poetry (Literature)
Read poems from the book Water sings blue: ocean poems by Kate Coombs and illustrated by Meilo So. Students create a poem to complement their artwork.

Woolly sun (Mathematics)
Recreate a Brett Whiteley artwork using wool and string. Create a sun in small groups, using a variety of warm coloured wool and string pieces. Construct concentric circles for the sun or create a continuous line drawing in the form of an installation. Measure the length of each piece of string used and record results eg. total length of string/wool used and comparisons between the amounts of each colour used.

Aerial perspectives (Geography)
Observe photos in the book The Earth from the air for children by Yann Arthus-Bertrand or Earthsong photos by Bernhard Edmaier. Compare to topographical maps of the land. Draw or paint an aerial view or map of a significant place.

Sand play
Explore Whiteley’s quote ‘To draw on the beach with a sharp stick, and let the waves come up and erase it is a wonderful way of learning how to draw economically…’. Read Anthony Browne’s book The shape game. Play the shape game with a partner using paper or sand in sand trays.