We get a lot of snow in Boston–this year we’ve had five snow days!–so I’ve designed a landscape painting unit that incorporates some of the magic of the winter season. For this assignment, students create a “snow globe” landscape painting of a cold or winter landscape (which also allows students to choose a cold place other than Boston).
As inspiration, I show students a slideshow of illustrations and student examples from previous years and ask questions like “What animals do you see when it’s cold?” and “What does the sky look like when it’s cold?”
I also show illustrations from The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats and describe what a horizon line is: a line that separates the ground from the sky. There are a lot of interesting lines used throughout this book!
I also create a “resource station” of picture books, reference books, toy animals and “how-to-draw” handouts for students to use as they work.
After this discussion, students begin composing a cold/winter landscape in their sketchbook. They begin by drawing a horizon line.
Then they add “clues” so that viewers know it’s a cold place, like winter trees, snow, foot prints, winter animals, Christmas lights, wind, etc.
During the next class, students trace a circle tracer onto a piece of watercolor paper and redraw their landscape inside the circle.
After drawing with pencil, students have the option of tracing their lines with Sharpies before coloring their picture with crayons.
On the third or fourth day (depending on the pace of the class), I demonstrate a few different painting techniques that students can use to make a snow effect:
1. Students can draw snowflakes with white crayon or oil pastel and then paint over them with watercolors.
2. Students can paint with watercolors and then sprinkle salt on top.
3. Students can paint with watercolors and then use a q-tip to paint snowflakes on with white acrylic paint.
4. Students can add small dots of glue and then sprinkle glitter over the glue to create snow.
After painting, students cut out their image and then create and attach a base on to the back of their picture to create a snow globe. Lastly, students write a sentence or two to describe their artwork.
A selection of finished paintings is currently on display in the main hallway. 🙂
Below is a list of books I check out for students to reference during this lesson:
- The Snowy Day, Ezra Jack Keats
- No Two Alike, by Keith Baker
- Snow Music, by Lynne Rae Perkins
- Snowballs, Lois Elhert
- Face to Face with Polar Bears, Norbert Rosing & Elizabeth Carney
- Marven of the Great North Woods, Kathryn Lasky
- Snowboard Twist, Jean Craighead George
- When Winter Comes, by Nancy Van Laan
- The Christmas Doll, by Wendy Mathis Parker
- Snow, by Uri Shulevitz
- The Fiddler of the Northern Lights, by Natalie Kisey-Warnock
- The Snowman, Raymond Briggs
- Penguins, Seymour Simon
- Nora and the Great Bear, by Ute Krause
- Blizzard, by John Rocco
- Owl Moon, by Jane Yolen