National Gallery of Ireland at Home: Shades on!

John Lavery's painting Her First Communion beside a collage version of the painting
John Lavery's Her First Communion; National Gallery of Ireland At Home collage versionCredit

While our onsite activities are reduced, our Education team are bringing some of their family workshops to you online so that you can get creative at home!

Follow along with these simple steps to create your own creative collage at home inspired by John Lavery's painting Her First Communion.

The painting is a full-length portrait of the artist's daughter Eileen, aged nine, in her Communion dress. Eileen's white dress was actually painted with lots of different colours - can you see which colours he used? We can make our own version of this artwork using materials in our homes. 

Let's get started!

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Shades On!

National Gallery at Home



  • Scraps of paper gathered from printer paper, news papers, magazines etc.
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors 
  • Pencil
  • Bag from a box of cereal
  • Brown paper bag


  1. Gather all your materials together. 
  2. When you are finding scraps of paper to tear or cut up, look carefully at the painting and try to match the colours used, if you can! Use strips of blue and grey for the dress, for example, and yellow and brown for her sleeves. 
  3. Sort the scraps into different colours 
  4. Open out your brown paper bag, and cut it to roughly the size that you would like your picture to be.
  5. Draw an outline of Eileen on the brown paper (this can be a rough sketch).
  6. Now, using your glue, start to stick down your strips of paper on your drawing of Eileen to create your collage! 
  7. When you're happy with how she looks, cut along the seam of the cereal bag, and cut off the excess plastic - this will make the veil.
  8. Glue the veil.
  9. As a final, finishing touch, crumple up some white paper and glue it in place around her head to make her headpiece!

You can share your creations with us on our online channels using #NationalGalleryIRLAtHome, or email them to us at [email protected] - we'd love to see how you get on! 

This activity, which would normally have taken place in the Maples Group Creative Space, is now brought to you online.


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