Draw a picture of yourself at work when you grow up.  Think about what you would be wearing, the place you would be working and the things you might need to help you.

Use any materials, techniques or processes (for example drawing, painting, printmaking, textiles, photography, computer-aided design, collage, montage).

Below you will find three key artworks to look at and discuss as a class.

There are then 10 examples of artworks made by children in response to this theme.

A Hind's Daughter

This girl is very young to be out in the fields cutting cabbages with such a sharp knife.  It is a calm and peaceful scene but she probably has sweat on her brow, dirt and soil under her nails and her hands may be cut and blistered.  She is the daughter of a skilled farm labourer and cabbage would be the main food for the family. She seems to be looking up as though startled, sensing that she is being watched.

Has she been working in the fields all day or is this just one cabbage for dinner?  These do not look like the kinds of clothes you would wear to go to school.

The artist painted this scene in the Berwickshire village of Cockburnspath in Scotland.  He has used the colours of late autumn and the trees are almost bare. Guthrie liked to paint outside in the open air rather than in the studio. He was the leader of a group of painters called the Glasgow School.  

A Hind's Daughter, Sir James Guthrie, 1883

Sir Robert Lorimer

This young man is so busy that he does not even notice us watching.

He is on his seventh page covering it with drawings and notes. As an architect he uses his mind to think and his hand to draw out ideas. Nowadays this work would be done much more quickly on computer.

There is very little in the room, a table, a chair, a statue – this helps us to focus on the main character. Rich warm colours have been used and these give a feeling of comfort, pleasure and luxury. He is dressed in fine clothes and is obviously making a good living from his work.

Sir Robert Lorimer became extremely famous and you can see examples of his work today including the Scottish National War Museum at Edinburgh Castle.

The artist who painted this was his elder brother. John Lorimer learned to paint first in Scotland and then in Paris, and was lucky enough to live in a castle for over 60 years

Sir Robert Lorimer, 1864 - 1929. Architect, John Henry Lorimer, 1886

Sir Adam Thomson, b. 1926

This man stands proudly in front of the company he owns – it is obvious that he is posing specially for this painting. He wears a business suit and stands relaxed whilst the workers below wear overalls and hurry about getting things done. This is British Caledonian Airways and everyone has to pull together to make sure the aeroplanes are safe and ready to fly. It was painted at Gatwick airport outside London.

The workplace is so vast that the people below look like ants. Notice the many lines in the painting. These help our eyes to travel into the distance, towards the scene of blue skies outside – the workers must look out longingly waiting for the end of their shift to come. What would it be like to work here?

The artist has included himself in the picture just below the roof on the left- hand side, looking down. This is a very large painting almost 244 cms squared. John Wonnacott often painted pictures as large as this which are cleverly put together in complicated ways.

Sir Adam Thomson, b. 1926. Founder and chairman of British Caledonian Airways, John Wonnacott, 1986 − © John Wonnacott

Further considerations

  • Why do people go to work?
  • What kinds of jobs do people in your own family do and what have they done in the past?
  • How have working hours and conditions have changed over time? 
  • What kind of jobs involve using your body, mind or both?
  • What do work places look like inside and outside?
  • How do people travel to their work? 
  • There are jobs where you meet lots of people and jobs where you work a lot by yourself – which would you prefer?
  • Some jobs that are lots of fun but don’t pay much money and jobs that are boring but make you rich – which is more important?
  • Some people like to be leaders, others like to be told what to do – which one are you?

Curriculum for Excellence

Expressive Arts

Art and Design

Inspired by a range of stimuli, I can express and communicate my ideas, thoughts and feelings through activities in art and design. EXA 1-05a

I can respond to the work of artists and designers by discussing my thoughts and feelings. EXA 1-07a

Health and wellbeing

I am investigating different careers/occupations, ways of working and learning and training paths. I am gainging experience that helps me to recognise the relevance of my learning, skills and interests to my future life.   HWB 2-20a 

Social Studies

I can compare and contrast a society in the past with my own and contribute to a discussion of the similarities and differences.  SOC 2-04a 


Artworks created for this theme

Adam Campbell
Anna McDonald
Hanni Shinton
Iona McDowall
Karen Lovie
Kathryn Park
Kenneth Macleod
Louis Stewart
Neilson Pearce
Pravar Seth