Art around you | Joan Eardley

Kitchen Sink and Cupboard

Activities for children of all ages to look at, talk about and make their own discoveries about art.

As you explore this resource please keep in mind that there are no wrong answers, or that there is only one way to do the activities - they are all about looking, chatting, making, and exploring art, wherever you are and whatever you have around you.

Joan Eardley

Kitchen Sink and Cupboard

While we’re spending so much time at home, it's important to keep ourselves stimulated. This week’s activities will help to keep the boredom at bay by getting you to look afresh at your familiar surroundings and find the beauty in the everyday. They include fun drawing exercises, sketchbook-making, story-telling, and more.

The activities are inspired by this intimate drawing, which is of the artist’s own kitchen sink and cupboard!

Joan Eardley once said ‘the more I know of a place, the more I know a particular spot, the more I find to paint in that particular spot’.

Activity one: drawing room

Create your own space: Before you start drawing, you need to create your own space in which to do it! It could be in a corner of a room, under a table, behind a curtain, even in an empty bath! The space doesn’t need to be huge – so long as it’s big enough for you and your drawing!

Gather your materials: What are you going to draw ON? How about making an easel from a piece of card, a sketchbook (see the video below), or a clipboard from a cereal box and clothes peg?

Make a scene: What in your house would you like to draw? You could take inspiration from Joan Eardley and grab a few things from the kitchen, like a cheese-grater, a saucepan, a candle… What else can you see in her drawing?

Once you’ve found all your things, arrange them together in a way you’d like to draw them, perhaps on a table, chair or a box. You could add fabric, such as clothes or a towel or a sheet, to make the background interesting. 

Draw! For this activity, instead of drawing from your memory, you should slow down and look really closely at the scene you’ve made, so that you start to see the wee details of the everyday objects in your life. If you’re stuck, you could use some of the 'warm up' ideas from activity 5 below.

Note for under 5s: You might think that your little one is too young for this. However, if you have a go, you might be surprised at how much they enjoy collecting and looking at a series of objects out of context before making their own drawing marks!

Activity two: See, Think, Wonder

Use the following questions to help you to write a story, imagining that you are in Joan Eardley’s kitchen!

  • Where is this place?
  • What can you see in front, behind, below and above you?
  • What can you smell?
  • What can you hear?
  • Is there anything you could taste?
  • What can you touch? What does it feel like?

You could start your story with the following:
‘One day I was sitting in Joan’s kitchen…’
and take it from there!

Activity three: a mid-week challenge for all the family

Your challenge this week is to draw your own kitchen sink! Don’t tidy up first – draw it how it really is!

Using just a pen or a pencil, we want you to try drawing your sink in 1 minute, then 3 minutes, then 10 minutes. Share your favourite with us by using #HomeArt and tagging @NatGalleriesSco

If you need them, you can find some 'warm up' drawing ideas in activity 5 below.


Activity four

In this clip we hear that Joan was ‘in her element, in the elements’!

Have you ever made any art outside? What do you think might be some of the benefits, and challenges?

Activity five: draw, draw, draw

This activity contains a whole host of tools, ideas and tips to help you have a great time drawing.

Make a sketchbook

Start by making your sketchbook to hold all of your drawings.

The pages of your sketchbook are ONLY for you – please don't worry if you don't think they're 'perfect' drawings (... but we bet that they're totally brilliant!) 


Drawing straight onto a blank page can be a bit scary. So, just as with P.E. you may need to warm up your creative muscles at the start of your drawing session!

Here are ten ‘warm up’ ideas for drawing. Pick and choose your favourites, or make up your own. Remember: there’s no wrong or right way to draw or create.

  1. Draw as many marks with your pencil as you can on one page.
  2. Can you draw a line that is angry, sad, confused or excited? How much emotion can you put into one single line?
  3. Draw an object in one go, without lifting your pencil from your page. This is called a ‘continuous line drawing’. It helps you focus on what you’re actually seeing, rather than what you think something looks like.
  4. Draw what’s in front of you, but upside down! Focus on the lines and shapes that you can see.
  5. Draw your object from above, below and at eye level. Which is your favourite?
  6. Attach your pencil to a long stick and draw an object!
  7. Draw with two pencils held together
  8. Hold your pencil in a different hand – then, how about holding it with your toes?!
  9. Press really hard or soft … play with the idea that there’s no right way to hold a pencil when you’re drawing.
  10. Scrunch and un-scrunch your paper, give it a wee tear or scribble a line on it! Do something to change it from being a perfectly blank white piece of paper!


'Read more' for some tips for your drawing – but feel free to just keep playing or doing your own thing.

Photograph © Alicia Bruce

Especially for under 5s

This week there are two activities especially for our under 5 Artists – a messy one which focuses on making marks and a clean one which focuses on finding and drawing different shaped objects around us.

Magic marks! (a bit messy)

Make a weird goopy mixture in which your marks will magically disappear! To make the mixture all you need is cornflour!

Put some cornflour in a bowl and add in a little water at a time. When this hard mixture is lifted up it becomes liquid! Your wee ones will enjoy making lines in this goopy mixture, only for their lines to quickly disappear like magic!

When you're finished, put your magic mixture in the bin - not the sink!

Shape sorter! (totally clean)

  1. Make or find something that can hold a few objects- a cardboard box with a hole, shoebox, tray with cloth, that kind of thing.
  2. Find objects and cut out the shape of their outlines.
  3. Hide the objects in the box and take it in turns to work out which shape matches which object!