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To mark the harvest festival of Lughnasadh on 1 August, we are sharing an extra Explorer at Home project! Taking inspiration from Isabel Nolan‘s artwork Heliosphere which features in the IMMA Collection, artist Kathryn Maguire has suggested some starting points based on the sun for family art activities at home.

Sun Up Sun Down

The materials that you need are:

  1. Paper, A4 or A3
  2. Black paper, tissue paper
  3. Old magazines, comics, or newspapers (check with an adult it’s okay to use them for art)
  4. Scissors
  5. Glue stick
  6. Paints, crayons, markers
  7. Circular objects (for tracing circles): jam jar lids, saucers, bottle tops
  8. Crayons (wax) and ink or watery paint
  9. Chalk, colours, chunky
  10. Sun Filter – paper plate and a straw



Draw images of sunrises or sunsets whether imagined or real (remember though, never look directly at the sun!). Paint with big strokes making the picture really bright and sunny. What colours will you use? Maybe the sun can be blue. Do you know why the sky turns red and pink at sunset? It’s because all the dust in the air makes it go those lovely colours. Think about how colours can make you feel. Some say blue is a “cold” colour, whereas red and pink are “hot.” What do other colours make you think about?


Make a circle on paper to create a sun (you can trace around jam jar lids, saucers, bottle tops to create circles) then colour it in. Is it big or is it small ? Is it a sunset or a sunrise? Is there a difference ? You could also use coloured paper with the circular shapes.

Crayon Etching

Draw a picture of the sun and all the rays in a dark crayon. Colour it with brighter colours, then brush over it with a wash of watery paint or ink. You can also scratch into the wax crayon.

Chalk Sundial Outside

When the sun is out, ask a parent or guardian to trace your shadow with a chalk outline on the ground outside. At different times through the day, stand in the same spot and have your shadow traced again. Maybe use a different colour chalk each time. Does your shadow change shape through the day?

Make a Stained Glass Sun Filter

Create a stained glass sun filter by cutting out shapes in the middle of a black piece of paper or card (but make sure you leave a border or frame all around the edge of the paper/ card). You can also create the rays of a sunset or sun rise. Stick coloured tissue or cellophane over the spaces you’ve cut out in the black card or paper. What colours will you use? Orange? Red? Pink?

Kathryn Maguire recommends these online links for further information and inspiration:


Finally please share your results, your experiments, and artworks with the hashtag #ExploreratHome

About the Artist

Isabel Nolan b.1974

Irish artist Isabel Nolan (born 1974) attended the National College of Art and Design and the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology. She works in sculpture, painting, textiles and text and explores notions of reality and identity, and the human compulsion to understand and define our situations and relationships with others.
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