A COUNTRY SCENE – Foreground, Middle Ground, Background

Students create a country scene using watercolour pencil techniques.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 3 to Grade 8


Language Arts
Social Studies
Visual Arts



Crayola Sketchbooks - 1 per student Crayola Marker & Watercolour Paper - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Crayola Watercolour Pencils - 12 Count Crayola Paint Brushes Masking Tape Plastic Placemats - 1 per student Water Containers Paper Towles Pencil Sharpeners

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A COUNTRY SCENE – Foreground, Middle Ground, Background - Step One

Step One

  1. Make 4 thumbnail sketches of different ideas for your scene.
  2. Choose the idea you like the best.
A COUNTRY SCENE – Foreground, Middle Ground, Background - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Tape a piece of watercolour paper to a plastic placemat.
  2. Be sure to use one long strip of tape for each side.
  3. Lightly draw your scene on the paper.
  4. Begin by colouring everything in with watercolour pencil.
  5. Paint small amounts of water into each section.
A COUNTRY SCENE – Foreground, Middle Ground, Background - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Use a variety of techniques to add detail and texture to your painting, for example:
    - drawing with wet pencil
    - painting water so colour goes from dark to light
    - splattering
    - painting wet colour over dry
A COUNTRY SCENE – Foreground, Middle Ground, Background - Step Four

Step Four

  1. When you are satisfied with your work, gently remove the tape from the paper.
  2. View your picture with fresh eyes.
    - How can you tell it is a rural Scene?
    - How does it make you feel?
    - What do you see that makes you say that?
    - What do you like the best about your painting? Why?


Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • identify characteristics of rural communities;
  • create a country scene that includes foreground, middle ground and background; 
  • use a variety of watercolour pencil techniques; 
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.


Have students:

  • use the same approach to create scenes of urban and suburban communities;
  • scan and save their images;
  • work with one or two others to combine their pictures and write a digital a story worth telling illustrated with their images;
  • share their finished stories with their peers.


  1. Prior to this lesson have students explore watercolour pencil techniques using the Exploring Watercolour Pencils lesson plan available on this website.
  2. Prior to this lesson teach or review the charateristics of rural communities, for example,
    - communities that are in the country
    - lots of open space
    - lots of trees
    - houses and farms are far apart
  3. Download a variety of rural images from the Internet, for example,
    British Columbia
  4. Download and display the Emphasis, Contrast and Balance posters available on this website.
  5. Gather, and make available, books about the country, for example, L is for Land of Living Skies: A Saskatchewan Alphabet, by Linda Aksomitis; If You're Not from the Prairie, by David Bouchard, and‎ Henry Ripplinger; Farming, by Ann Love and Jane Drake; Town Mouse Country Mouse, by Jan Brett; Going To The Fair, by Sheryl McFarlane; and Heartland: A Prairie Sampler, by Jo Bannatyne-Cugnet, and‎ Yvette Moore.
  6. Gather plastic placemats - one for each student.
  7. Gather the required art materials and place them in baskets for easy distribution.


  1. View and discuss the images of rural scenes, for example, Alberta.
  2. Identify the horizon line, foreground, middle ground and background in the photographs.
  3. Guide students to see the division of space and things that create the illusion of depth, for example,
    - objects higher on the picture plane appear to be further away than those in the middle ground and foreground
    - objects in the distance appear to be smaller than those in the middle ground and foreground
    - colours in the distance appear to be paler and duller than those in the middle ground and foreground
    - details and colours in the foreground are brighter and sharper than those in the middle ground and background
    - cast shadows make objects seem 3-dimensional
  4. Ask students to think about what watercolour pencil techniques they could use to get effects they see in the photographs.
  5. Introduce the challenge.


The Challenge

  1. Identify characteristics of rural communities.
  2. Create a country scene that includes foreground, middle ground and background.
  3. Use a variety of watercolour pencil techniques.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.

The Process

  1. Make sure everyone understands the challenge.
  2. Establish success criteria with your students. For example,
    I know I am successful when I have:
    - composed a landscape with foreground, middle ground and background;
    - added details that show it is a rural scene;
    - used a variety of watercolour pencil techniques;
    - created visual texture;
    - used colour to show depth;
    - kept the paper in good condition.
  3. Guide students through the steps outlined in this lesson plan.
  4. Observe students as they work. 
  5. Provide individual assistance and encouragement.


Display the paintings as a ‘body of work’.

  1. Ask students to gather in front of the display and look at the works thoughtfully.
  2. Ask them to find 3 things they find interesting about any of them.
  3. During the discussion include references to:
    - composition - placement of foreground, middle ground and background
    - details - things that show it is a rural scene

    - textures – that have been created using different watercolour pencil techniques
    colour – how it has been used to balance the composition and show depth
    feelings the works evoke
    challenges they may have had and how they solved them
  4. Ask them to tell how they felt about doing this project.


  1. Observe students as they work – thoughtful focus, discriminating, seeking more information, elaborating, experimenting
  2. Observe students as they discuss the paintings – active listening, insightful contributions, supporting ideas with evidence found in the artwork and from personal experience.
  3. Use a checklist to track progress. (Download - CountryScene_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - CountryScene_self-assessment.pdf, or CountryScenePrimary_self-assessment.pd