Main content area

Design a perspective drawing

Students make artworks for a variety of audiences using different forms and techniques to convey meaning and represent the likeness of things in the world. They discuss artworks in terms of how subject matter is used and represented, artist’s intention and audience interpretation and make reasoned judgements about artworks.
Focus Artwork #1: 
Sailor's Return Hotel by Sydney Long 1902


MAKING: Students learn to:

  • interpret subject matter which is of local interest in particular ways in the making of artworks

APPRECIATING: Students learn about:

  • how concepts and materials are thought about, organized and assembled, and serve different ends in artworks that they and others make

Background notes for Teachers

At the beginning of the twentieth century, and before this painting was created in the early 1900s, The Rocks area of Sydney was experiencing an outbreak of bubonic plague which was a serious threat to the residents’ health. The disease was carried by fleas living on the rats that thrived in the squalid dockland area and it spread at a rapid pace. The situation called for drastic measures and many of the buildings in the area were demolished. The land was cleared and completely fumigated with chemicals to eradicate the problem. 

Sydney Long had a fondness for The Rocks. In contrast to this unfolding disaster for all who lived in the area, Long painted a series of artworks of the buildings as they existed prior to the outbreak of the disease. The result was a series of works capturing a somewhat romantic view of the area as it once was, with clean streets and well-kept buildings and was a tribute to the memory of the earlier version of this bustling dockside.

This painting was purchased by the NSW Government for the Art Gallery of NSW and transferred to the State Library in 1920.

Student Activities

Observing the artwork

Students study the image The Sailors Return Hotel and answer questions designed to encourage thorough observation of this work and its use of perspective.

Number of set tasks: 1

Starting the perspective drawing

Students use a step-by-step guide to develop the skills that will enable them to create their own perspective drawing.

Number of set tasks: 1

Activity notes for Teachers

Students will be assisted in:

  • discovering ways to create images from their own personal stories
  • exploring the elements of basic perspective drawing techniques
  • applying this knowledge to begin an artwork of their own

Design a perspective drawing

Students will use a step by step guide to design a perspective drawing. This guide is available as downloadable resource in Activity 2 .

Materials needed for this art activity:

  • Cartridge paper - heavy quality if possible
  • Lead pencils
  • Erasers
  • Rulers
  •  A copy of Sailor’s Return Hotel 1902 by Sydney Long to look at - IWB image or make multiple copies.
  • Images of street scenes and buildings from a range of angles – make photocopies from SLNSW collections. Many themed sets of photographs can be found at the State Library of NSW's Flickr account.  

Additional Resources

Links to other artworks by Sydney Long in the State Library of NSW collection:

NSW Syllabus for Visual Art

A student:

  • VAS3.1 Investigates subject matter in an attempt to represent likenesses of things in the world.
  • VAS3.2 Makes artworks for different audiences, assembling materials in a variety of ways.
  • VAS3.3 Acknowledges that audiences respond in different ways to artworks and that there are different opinions about the value of artworks.
  • VAS3.4 Communicates about the ways in which subject matter is represented in artworks.

Typically teachers of Stage 3 students will:

  • extend the range of opportunities that students have to investigate and use various media, techniques and tools in relation to the investigation of subject matter (eg continue to explore colour, tone, light, scale, surface qualities and volume in painting, drawing, and photography; explore different compositional techniques involving focus, angle of view, depth, sequence, repetition, balance and contrast in various forms including digital forms, painting, printmaking)