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This week’s project is inspired by John Luke‘s artworks in the IMMA Collection. He was born in Belfast in 1906. When he was a young teenager, he worked in a shipyard and studied art at night. Later he won a scholarship and was able to attend art school full-time and he went to study art in London.

His painting Goat and Mountain features in the IMMA Collection. It looks simple but you have to paint really carefully to create a work like this. Luke’s paintings were different from the work of other artists around him and he was brave to keep doing something different. For instance, he didn’t try to make the trees and mountains look like actual, real-life trees and mountains but he came up with his own style of painting them. Take a moment and look at another artwork by John Luke that is also featured in the IMMA Collection. It’s called Farmhouse, Ballyaghagan. Do you see how the leaves on his trees are all one painted shape? You get the impression of lots of leaves by the swirls of brown colour around the top of the trees. Do you see how he paints wavy shapes through the fields? These shapes in his fields give an impression of movement in his work.

What you will need:

  • Paper
  • Colouring pencils
  • Crayons
  • Paint, brushes, water
  • Markers
  • Photographs of the countryside – from magazines, books etc…


Now, let’s get to work – steps:

  1. Look for some photos of the countryside, maybe look for photographs from a magazine, book or online.
  2. Choose one photo and try to paint the scene in your own style. Experiment in new ways, make your lines wavy, make swirls of colour, use lots of dots to make up the trees.
  3. Think about the shapes in the picture: use squares, circles, triangle etc… Remember: it’s your picture, and your own style!


Take your time doing this exercise. Be slow. It doesn’t matter if it takes a long time to finish—you can work on it for a few minutes and come back to it later. Experimenting in different styles can be fun and challenging, be patient, and enjoy the process. Sometimes when we slow down, we find (that) lots of great ideas can pop into our heads too!

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


Finally, a word about paint:

You will see that John Luke used oil and tempera to make some of his paintings. You may have heard of oil paint before. Lots of artists use oil paint but you may never have heard of tempera. Tempera is a paint that is made by mixing colour pigment (like coloured powder) with egg yolk. The egg binds the colour, this makes a very luxurious paint. You will see tempera paintings in the National Gallery of Ireland. Tempera has been used by artists since the 10th century. In the 1400s, oil paint started to be used in Europe and became a more popular medium with artists.

About the Artist

John Luke 1906–1975

Northern Irish painter John Luke studied at the Belfast School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, London. His stylized landscape and figurative studies drew on the techniques of the Italian Renaissance painters he admired. Luke had his first solo exhibition in Belfast in 1946. In 1950, as part of the Festival of Britain, he was commissioned to paint a mural in the City Hall, Belfast. Luke has completed many public commissions. He taught at the Belfast School of Art from 1953 to 1973.

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Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.