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The power of paintings

The paintings in the National Gallery Collection provide windows into other times and other places. They are rich and accessible contexts for talking and writing

National Gallery paintings are a powerful starting point for English and drama projects: they ignite discussion and spark the imagination.

The power of paintings
See how a single painting can capture children's imagination and ignite discussion.
Developing language and literacy – 3 mins
How a painting can capture a child's imagination

Get involved

Book a pupil visit or take advantage of the events on offer for secondary and primary teachers and pupils.


One Child's Picture of a Cockatoo

 A child's drawing, inspired by a painting

'Framed' – Bringing teachers, the book, the author, the paintings and the pupils together Out of Art into Storytelling – Enabling teachers to transform their pupils' storytelling in response to paintings Articulate – Master classes of professional writers working with children aged 11 to 14

What the teachers say

The Sherington Primary School, London, took part in Out of Art into Storytelling. Monica Lanata, a Year 6 teacher, said:

"The impact of using visual stimuli such as paintings to grab the children's attention and improve the quality of their writing is just amazing! The children's imagination came alive with the paintings – they lived and breathed the scenes that were shown, and this enthusiasm showed when it came to writing."

See full case study of Sherington Primary School

Find out more about teaching English and drama through paintings