Early Childhood Studio Lesson
In young children’s landscapes
we often see the classic sun-in-corner (complete with “rays”), a
strip of blue along the top of the
page for the sky, and its cousin, the
green grass strip along the bottom.
When students are left to their own
devices, this formula for landscapes
continues to live, but not grow, for
Students can, and will, identify
horizon lines in a work of art if
asked to do so. They can see how
overlapping creates a sense of depth.
They can talk about how a piece
makes them feel. With a little push,
they can use these landscape concepts to transform their own work.
I do this project with second
graders, beginning by showing
and talking about a few landscape
fundamentals: horizon line, depth
(near/far), and the mood or feeling
that a work of art inspires. We look
at reproductions of work by Vincent
van Gogh and Georgia O’Keeffe. We
of the images
in these works
of art with our
own local California hills
that change from lush green in winter, to arid ochres and golds in summer. We talk about how an artist’s
images can make us feel, how they
can convey calmness or warmth,
anxiety or a sense of coolness.
Beginning with Movement
Students start by making big sweep-
ing arm movements to get a feel of
the soft curves of their landscapes.
Emphasis is placed on the arm creat-
ing the lines, not the hand. At first
they practice with pencil on news-
lines, and more
one edge of the
The difference between seeing
one’s own artwork up close and
from a distance is dramatic.
paper to the other.
After they have filled both sides
of the newsprint with practice lines,
students pencil in lines on 12 x 18"
black railroad board. I encourage
them to keep their compositions