Art Competition for Schools and Families | Special Education Schools

Theme: Amazing Nature

Welcome to the National Galleries of Scotland Art Competition for Schools and Families 2020. The aim of this competition is to encourage school children to interact with, and be inspired by, artworks in the National Galleries of Scotland Collection.

Here you will find three key artworks to look at and discuss, with some additional images included below. There are suggestions of things to think about, instructions on what to make, examples of materials that can be used and how the artwork will be judged.

Pupils from special education schools are welcome to enter in any category as long as it is age appropriate.

Things to think about:

  • What can you see in the landscape?
  • Does it look like a nice place to explore?
  • What season is it? What is the weather like?
  • What colours has the artist used for the trees? The water? The ground?
  • What kind of marks has she made? Smudges, wavy lines, dabs, scribbles?



The artist, Sophie Brzeska, used watercolour paints to create a range of different marks on the paper. She didn’t train as an artist but enjoyed making these rapid sketches of the outdoors.

Things to think about:

  • What type of natural objects did the artist collect for her picture?
  • What colours are they?
  • Why do you think she collected these flowers?
  • Can you spot a flower that hasn’t opened out yet? Can you spot one that she has pulled open so that you can see the inside?



The artist, Elizabeth Blackadder, used to collect flowers and press them when she was a child. When she made this picture she regularly used to visit the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh where she also ran a drawing course.

Things to think about:

  • What shape does the pattern in the picture make?
  • Does it remind you of anything?
  • Can you use your finger to trace it from start to finish?
  • Can you tell how the dots have been made?
  • What colour are the dots? They have been made with something the artist found outside. What do you think it is?



Richard Long collected mud from the River Avon and made this picture using his own fingerprints. He often uses nature as the subject and the material in his work. He also often uses his own body rather than tools.

Things to consider

Here are a few things to help spark the imagination.

Nature walks

  • Collecting natural objects: leaves, stones, shells, sticks, plants, pinecones
  • Pointing out colours and changes in the environment
  • Touching different surfaces and objects. Are they smooth or rough? Cool or warm? Wet or dry?
  • Taking photographs to look at indoors

Textures and colours

  • Autumn leaves, wet and dry, sky and clouds, flowers, different types of ground, looking at reflections and splashing in puddles

Unusual natural objects

  • Bark and leaf rubbings, ordering objects by size, type or shape, using mud or sand to make marks, exploring frost, ice and snow



A picture of something inspired by nature. It could depict natural objects or an outdoor scene. The picture could be realistic or abstract.


Any materials, techniques or processes (for example drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, photography, computer aided design, collage, montage) to make your piece as long as each entry is two-dimensional.
It can be any size up to A2 (60 x 42 centimetres).

Entries will be judged on:

  • Originality and creativity
  • Confident handling of materials
  • Boldness and impact


Prefer to submit a group entry?

Groups, including families, of two or more children in any age group can choose from any of the themes in this year's competition and submit a group entry.

Find out more

Entry form and guidelines

Entry process for families and schools:

  • Read the instructions for each category very carefully.

  • Schools are asked to select no more than 10 artworks per category for submission. You might want to invite another class to choose their 10 favourites. 

  • Send us your entries by completing the online entry form

  • Make sure that the name of each child is spelt correctly as no amendments can be made at a later stage.

  • Please submit images that are no larger than 10Mb and no smaller than 2Mb. 

  • Send files as JPEG format. 

  • Name the image file(s) with the name of the entrant and school name. 

Competition terms and conditions

Voucher applications for schools

To support art in schools, teachers are invited to apply for a free artist-led workshop for their class or £100 vouchers for art materials. Just complete the appropriate part of the online application form and submit it with your entries.

The National Galleries of Scotland Art Competition is proud to be supported by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery

Art Competition contact details

If you have any questions about the competition please get in touch.

[email protected]