Teaching the Explore

Art imitates life

Recap the different aspects of daily life. Make a link that it is not only these aspects that are influenced by geographical and locational features of an island, but also that an island’s culture can be influenced by these. ‘Culture’ is defined as the way of life of a group of people or a place, and can encompass music, art, theatre and literature. This Explore is going to focus on art.

What do we already know about the UK?

Recap the aspects of daily life in the UK. Do the pupils remember any geographical features of the UK? Do the pupils know anything about the culture of the UK? Geographical features explored in the previous Explore include: major cities, lakes/rivers, mountains, surrounding bodies of water, key landmarks.

Cultural items to discuss can include:

  • Music – The Beatles, Stormzy
  • Clothing designers – Vivienne Westwood, Stella McCartney
  • Literature – William Shakespeare, Jane Austen
  • Sport – football, Wimbledon
  • Outdoor pursuits – despite the weather
  • National parks and hiking trails (including the Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Snowdonia National Park)

The link in the slide provides more information about UK cultural life:

Stormy Seas, Johan Knutson

Present the work of Johan Knutson.

Discuss these questions:

  1. What can you see in these paintings?
  2. Using what we know about the UK, how do you think the weather has influenced the artist?

We are looking for answers such as:

  1. Crashing waves; cloudy skies; jagged rocks; cliff edges, tilted boat
  2. The UK is known for the rain and this can produce storms on the coastline.

Now, explore the work of American artist D. Howard Hitchcock. Show pupils the image. Using their knowledge of how weather has impacted Knutson, they now need to assess a new piece of artwork influenced by another island:

  1. What can you see?
  2. What can you infer about the island?
  3. Where do you think this is located?

More information about D. Howard Hitchcock can be found at:

Let’s explore Hawaii!

Reveal that the painting has been influenced by Hawaii and provide pupils with some key aspects of daily life and geographical features:

  • Hawaii is the only U.S. state that is made up entirely of (oceanic/volcanic) islands: eight major islands and 124 islets.
  • Hawaii lies just south of the Tropic of Cancer and has a mild tropical climate.
  • The capital is Honolulu, on the island of Oahu.
  • Farming contributes majorly to the local economy: the most popular crops grown both commercially and in gardens include sugarcane, lime, passion fruit, pineapple, mango, guava, litchi, papaya, banana, coconut, avocado, breadfruit and tamarind.
  • Many of the islanders partake in cultural practices (e.g. the giving of the ’lei’, a garland of flowers). The 'Aloha Spirit' is reflective of the way in which many diverse groups live together.

More information on Hawaii can be found at:

Artwork comparison

Now that the pupils have had a chance to connect the aspects of daily life/geographical features to the influences of both painters, now it is time to compare the two artists’ work and think about how this is represented in style: what is the mood of the paintings? Use the following key questions.

  1. How would you describe the style of both artists?
  2. How have they used this style to represent each island?
  3. Which watercolour techniques have they used?
  4. What is the mood of the paintings? (How do these paintings make you feel?)
  5. How has this been achieved?

Ask pupils to complete a mind map for each artist, with these three key branches for them to expand on: style, watercolour techniques, mood.

Let’s hear from an artist …

Watch the video interview with illustrator of Amazing Islands, Kerry Hyndman. Listen for the hints and tips for the pupils in terms of style and technique with their artworks.

Kerry Hyndman talking about illustrating Amazing Islands.

Main task

Pupils to create their own piece of artwork based on either of the two artists. They are to use similar artistic techniques and are to consider which colours best represent the mood that they are trying to recreate.

Assess, reflect, connect

Pupils to consider this activity:

We are going to be painting a picture of a volcanic island. Using your knowledge of paint colours and techniques, which colours and techniques would you use, and why?