Painting Eyes on Pebbles

By The Arty Teacher - July 3, 2019

I first saw these loosely-painted eyes on stone, on Instagram.  I just had to find out more.  Emma Bowater, who is Head of Art at Wolverhampton Grammar School, is the art teacher responsible for this appealing work.  She was kindly willing to share her thoughts and ideas.  She told me they were created in a Yr10 taster lesson.  (That’s for students who are about 15yrs old who want to consider taking art at a higher level).  This is what she told me:

“We wanted to encourage them to think about A level as a chance to explore the more conceptual nature of artwork. I saw Jennifer Allnutt‘s work online and thought it would be quirky and engaging for our 50 minute session.” 

Jennifer Allnutt collects rock and then paints on them.  She then returns them to where she has found them for people to find.

“We started discussing her work and her use of social media as a promotional tool – referencing back to the fact that once the rocks were out in the world, social media would help promote her work even more.”

Painting Eyes on Pebbles

Prompting Questions

“We then went on to discuss the work of James Millichamp, our previous Head of Art and a practising artist. He has created a few projects where he paints buildings that are in a state of dereliction and then attaches his work to the buildings themselves. The pieces tend to last a few weeks before someone usually steals them away and the students like discussing this idea of temporary work. “Who takes it? Why do they take it? What do they do with it? Why would Sir let people take his work?”; they became quite inquisitive about the process.”

Connections to Artists

“From that, students chose their own eye images that I had selected from various artists on Instagram and my own research. They had 3 minutes to sketch an outline in marker onto their purple primed rock, then used oil paints to mark make with colours.”

“We often get students working dark to begin with, then using bright colours before filling in with mid tones so they get more of a sense of flesh. Both teaching staff involved in the sessions had a go alongside the students. We could demonstrate and discuss our own thoughts. 20 minutes later and we gathered round to discuss how much they had accomplished in such a short amount of time – most of them didn’t believe they would manage to do it.”

Ongoing Discussion

“The rocks have prompted a lot of discussions around the Art department since the lesson.  They have now been varnished and to be left around the school. Several sixth form students have asked if they can have a go at making one too, which is great!”


I’m really impressed that these were painted in 50 minutes.  I was interested to read that the rocks had be primed with purple paint and that students used marker pen.  Really helpful tips.  Thank you Emma Bowater.

If you need to buy rocks online, you can find them on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

The resources below are great for teaching your students how to draw eyes.

‘This post has been included in Twinkl’s End of Terms Activities blog.’

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The Arty Teacher

Sarah Crowther is The Arty Teacher. She is a high school art teacher in the North West of England. She strives to share her enthusiasm for art by providing art teachers around the globe with high-quality resources and by sharing her expertise through this blog.

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2 responses to “Painting Eyes on Pebbles”

  1. Catherine says:

    Love this. Were the images you found on Instagram paintings or photographs? I love the colour palettes they have used and was wondering how much of this they had made up themselves. Thankyou

    • The Arty Teacher says:

      Hi Catherine, The art teacher who did this project, got her students to look at the work of Jennifer Allnut (link above). She goes on to say that she gave the students various eye images that she found on Instagram and that she got them all to paint dark first. You can see that they all have a layer of purple applied first. It’s a great process outlined above!

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