Landscape art activities provide children with more than just drawing lessons. Although students can hone technical skills while creating landscapes, they can also build spatial-reasoning abilities, eye-hand coordination and creativity. You can also add to the learning experience and tie landscape art to other content areas such as social studies, math or science.
Points in the Painting
Learning about foreground, middle ground and background can help children to better understand perspective and mathematical concepts such as scale. Discuss where these parts of the painting are -- the front, middle and back -- and have the child point them out in a real work of art. Give the child a canvas or piece of thick paper, and ask her to draw or paint a landscape, including a definite foreground, middle ground and background. Add in a lesson on perspective, and ask the child to pick one outdoor object such as a tree or a bush. Have her draw or paint in the object in each section, sizing it to fit the perspective. For example, the foreground tree is tall, the middle ground version is slightly smaller and the background one is tiny.
Even though landscape artists often use paints, you don't have to. Instead of layering on greens for grass and blue and white for a cloudy sky, switch up the art lesson and use clay. While clay might seem like a sculptural medium, children can "finger paint" with it. Have the child draw his landscape on a piece of thick card stock paper or cardboard. Pull apart modeling clay into dime-sized pieces. The child can fill in the landscape drawing by smoothing the clay -- finger-paint style -- across the paper. This creates a layered look with textures that mimic the brushstrokes of the Impressionists.
Tie the landscape lesson into other content areas by focusing on a specific subject mater theme. For example, connect the art activity to social studies by having the child paint a historical landscape or an outdoor area from another area of the world. You can also bridge science content by studying the plants and wildlife that the child includes in the painting. Research the flora and fauna of a habitat. Ask the child to re-create it in a landscape painting along with rivers, hills, mountains and other outdoor areas.
Part of creating landscape art is deciding which areas to show and which ones to exclude. A landscape artist doesn't always depict an entire outdoor scene. Sometimes she shows a vast meadow, while other times she only paints a snippet. Ask the child to make decisions about what she will show, what time of day she will paint and what style she wants to paint it in. For example, the child may choose to show a mountain range at dusk using wide, somewhat abstract brush strokes of brilliant color.
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