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Watercolor Winter Wonderland: Art Class Project

written by: Lila S. Kallstrom • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 11/21/2013

This watercolor painting lesson will teach how to create a winter landscape using simple watercolor techniques. It is for grades 1 to 8 and can be adapted to the older grades by creating more difficult trees on the landscape. Students will find this watercolor painting lesson easy and fun to do.

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    Lesson Plan

    To begin this easy watercolor winter landscape painting, show students a winter scene or have them observe the outside landscape Watercolor Step 1 Paints Brushes and Paper and describe the colors of the sky. The cool colors on a color wheel of purple, blue and black will help the students achieve this winter landscape scene. It is easy and fun to create--and adaptable for all grade levels, 1 through 8.

    Materials:

    • Watercolor paints - blue, black, purple, teal, gray, white
    • Watercolor paper
    • Watercolor brush (#6 or #4)
    • Masking tape
    • Small round coin or circular paint bottle wrapped in tissue, paper towel
    • White acrylic or tempera paint
    • Sponge Watercolor Step 2 Masking Tape Border 

    Procedure:

    1. Tape the watercolor paper using masking tape around all 4 sides to a board or old tile to paint on. Use a pencil to lightly draw a line 1/3 of the way up for a hilly landscape.

    2. Using the line as a guideline, wet the paper above the line half way to the top. Using a dark purple or blue, lightly paint horizontal lines of color. Quickly wet the paper all the way to the top. Use another blue and then a teal or gray color to complete the skyline.

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    3. While the paper is still wet, dab a round lid or coin wrapped in a tissue onto a spot in the sky where you would like a moon. The Watercolor Step 3 tissue will absorb excess water and paint to dry the area.

    4. Then wet the area below the horizon. Using black or gray as the color, paint across the hills and in several areas under the skyline. Also paint some gray areas near the moon so they appear as clouds.

    5. Allow watercolor to dry for a few minutes. Then apply white acrylic paint to create tree shapes on the hills. Brush the strokes upward and in thinner and thinner lines to make branches. You can also paint the trees in black acrylic paint but they will stand out on the painting. Try painting white over the black to achieve a more subtle gray tree.

    6. If you want, create a pond using acrylic paints in the foreground. Paint the dry paper using a lot of white with blue and gray. Use white acrylic paint at the edge of the snow along the pond.

    7. Using a dry sponge, lightly dab white acrylic paint on the tree branches for a snowy effect.

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    More Steps of the Painting Process

    Circular moon dabbed with tissuePaint grey on hillsides and near moonPaint white trees and branchesTry black trees as silhouettesPaint white and blue pond with grey trees
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    Hints and Tips

    • Students should be reminded to: wet all surfaces before painting; not leave watercolor brushes in water; and keep the paint Finished blocks very watery for subtle colors.
    • Allow one color of blue or purple to touch another so that the water mixes them rather than trying to brush one color overtop of the other. Let the water do the work.
    • Try several layers of white acrylic over the background as it can be transparent. Use the height of the moon as the guideline for how tall to make the trees. Use black acrylic on trees only if you want them to stand out. White on black makes a nice gray effect for the trees.

    Painting Lessons to Teach:

    Use the lesson to teach about perspective. Trees painted on the hilltop should not reach to the top of the painting unless the moon is quite high on the page. Objects painted into the foreground such as the pond should not be too dark and draw the eye to them.

    Use the lesson to teach about silhouettes. Trees will appear in black if light is behind them as will the ground. Shadows and lighting can be taught to older grades who want to use the moon in the painting as a light source. Discuss where the shadows would fall and have them create them in grays.

    Special techniques for creating a snowy texture can be created with special spackled paint or glitter when watercolor is dry. Ice can be created using plastic wrap placed on the pond while the painting is still wet. It will look like cracked ice when removed. To see the effect of plastic wrapped on watercolor paintings see Painting a Watercolor Winter Window Lesson. Throw salt on the wet pond area or snow area for a special effect and wipe off when dry.

    Use the lesson to teach about symmetry and balance. Try to use uneven numbers of trees on each side of the painting or uneven numbers of branches on each side of the tree. For a symmetrical painting, put the moon in the exact center. Paint a reflection of the moon in the pond and paint perfectly symmetrical trees or snowflakes.

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    Painting Polar Bears on a Winter Landscape

    Polar Bears by grade 2 studentsPolar Bears - Gr. 2Polar Bears - Gr. 2
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    Watercolor Painting Display

    When students have completed their watercolor painting art lesson, display the watercolors together on a blue or gray background if possible. Add snowflakes and other winter art to the display.

    For other watercolor winter landscapes ideas, a Canadian artist has created a blog about the procedure for painting polar bears on a winter background. Steps and pictures are included on the website with related articles by other art teachers. Her website can be found at: www.thatartistwoman.blogspot.com.

    Visit the other watercolor ideas at the bottom of this article for themes such as Spring, Fall, Easter, Mothers Day and Summer.

    Students will enjoy creating a watercolor winter landscape with cool colors of purple, blue and gray, and simple watercolor techniques to make the scene beautiful.

    Photo Credits: Lila Kallstrom

Watercolor Painting Lessons With Winter Themes

These articles will display watercolor techniques for creating winter landscapes, frosted windows, polar bears, snowflakes and Valentine's Day paintings. The watercolor painting lessons are easy to follow and can be adapted for elementary art lessons, grades 1 through 8.
  1. Watercolor Winter Wonderland: Art Class Project
  2. Watercolor Painting Lessons to Create a Winter Window Scene
  3. A Watercolor Lesson to Make Snowflakes and Snow Globes
  4. Making Hearts Using Art: A Middle School Valentine's Day Painting Lesson