Looking and Responding to
Art in the Primary School

I retired as Principal of Breaffy National School, Castlebar, Co. Mayo in 1998. This project arises from my experience of teaching art and art appreciation in the Primary School, now known as looking and responding to art.

I have a strong belief that no matter how we approach art in the Primary School, some background knowledge of the lives and works of the great artists can only prove beneficial and an inspiration in our work as teachers. This is what I have tried to provide in a simplified manner in chapters 1 to 11 of the book. Children could also research further information on artists over the internet. Chapter 12 deals specifically with looking and responding to art. Throughout the review I emphasise the importance of a verbal response. As follow-up activities, I also occasionally suggest an additional response in creative writing or in practical art activities.

Teachers who may be interested in a particular artist or art movement are at liberty to download an individual chapter and adapt it for use with a particular age group. Chapter 12 could be used for continual reference.

Chapter 13 deals with ideas for a visit to an art gallery with children (specifically for a visit to the Impressionist exhibition on the opening of the millennium wing of the National Gallery of Ireland). The ideas here can be adapted for any age group and for any exhibition. Chapter 14 is concerned with one possible approach to practical art, together with a selection of images of children's art from Breaffy N. S.

You can download the various chapters of this book as PDF files from the following links:


Museum Web Sites

A selection of images is available throughout the text. Most of the images in this project can be accessed through the various museum web sites. I have included the names of all the museums where the images are located. In most cases, an image can be accessed through a web search engine by typing the title of the painting and the artist's name, eg, 'Impression Sunrise' by Claude Monet, 'The Scream' by Edvard Munch.


Posters of most art works can be purchased over the internet. The National Gallery of Ireland has a selection of posters of the works of Jack Yeats. Some posters are also available from the Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin.

Art Books

In addition I would recommend the following reasonably priced books through which most of the images used in this project can be accessed. Monet, Renoir and the Impressionist Landscape, available from the National Gallery of Ireland; Monet, John House, Phaidon, Oxford; Renoir, Peter H. Feist, Taschen; Jean- Francois Millet, Yale University Press, London; Van Gough (Masterworks series), Nathaniel Harris, Parragon; Munch, John Boulton Smith, Phaidon; Expressionism, Dietmar Elger, Taschen; Edward Hopper, Rolf Gunter Renner, Taschen; Caspar David Friedrich, Helmut Borsch-Supan, Prestel; Images in Yeats-Jack B Yeats, The National Gallery of Ireland 1990; Jack B Yeats in the National Gallery of Ireland, Hilary Pyle, The National Gallery of Ireland; Nancy Wynne-Jones at Eighty, Brian Fallon, Gandon Editions; Martin Gale Paintings, Nissan Art Project, Royal Hibernian Academy, Ely Place, Dublin.

Tom Higgins, Currach, Castlebar, Co. Mayo, Ireland. 2007. Email: tmhiggins.ias@eircom.net