Friday, December 12, 2014

Birch tree moonscapes for middle school

This was a very successful
mat board / cardboard strip black paint smearing/flicking birch tree project 
that I elevated so that it was appropriate for 6th grade and more challenging than I've done previously.

As (hopefully) all of you know, the birch tree trick project is a no-fail project that makes every student feel like a super-duper artist. The objective this time around was to
create a full landscape that demonstrated great depth and shadows. 

Before I start- I am so close to 200 followers(!) so please pass this along to friends
or colleagues so that I can hit a new milestone.
(I think it will also motivate me to do my blog design overhaul sooner rather than later.)

The lesson: 
 This was my favorite of my photo and print examples. 
It is a woodcut called "Northern Shadows" by Lisa VanMeter
who has many beautiful woodcuts and tree-themed work on her website

Project breakdown:

1. Sketch closest trees
2. Add in horizon line and hills. 
3. Sketch in the rest of trees ( I required a minimum of 6.)
4. Draw in moon and shadows. 
5. Add in extras: houses, animals, footsteps, etc.

1. Use cardboard or mat board pieces to scrap thinned black tempera for the birch.
2. Paint in sky with liquid watercolor. 
3. Paint in shadows and create a "chalky moon texture" with a very light black wash. 
4. Use watercolor pencils for tiny things like houses, pine trees, animals. 

*To expedite the process I had three sky color options pre-made
and the shadow paint pre-mixed and ready. 

For elementary teachers I have a "wicked" old version of this project and a round-up of many other winter project ideas here


  1. These are So Pretty! Yet one more birch lesson for me to "pin". I love the soft shadows.