SPRING LANDSCAPE – Impressionism, Texture, Space

Students work on black construction paper using white tempera paint to fill in foreground, middle ground and background with a variety of brushstrokes and then paint over the white paint with colours to create a spring landscape in the style of the Impressionists.

Required Time

80 Minutes

Grade Level

Grade 1 to Grade 6


Language Arts
Visual Arts


background foreground impressionism middle ground space


Crayola Washable Paint Crayola Paint Brushes - 5 Count Crayola Construction Paper - Black - 22.9 cm x 30.5 cm (9" x 12") Water Containers Paper Towels Plastic Container Lids for Palettes

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SPRING LANDSCAPE – Impressionism, Texture, Space - Step One

Step One

  1. Use two different paintbrushes.
  2. Fill the paper with different brushstrokes.
  3. Change the way you hold the brush to make a mark.
  4. Change the amount of pressure you use to make a mark.
  5. Change how much space you leave between the marks.
SPRING LANDSCAPE – Impressionism, Texture, Space - Step Two

Step Two

  1. Imagine a horizon line near the top half of your paper with sky above and land below this line
  2. Use different brush strokes to fill in the space on your paper.
    - foreground - the space that seems closest to the viewer, at the bottom of the paper
    - middle ground - the space in the middle of the paper between the foreground and the background
    - background - the space that seems far away from the viewer, closest to the top of the paper
  3. Make sure the brush strokes show the differences between each area.
SPRING LANDSCAPE – Impressionism, Texture, Space - Step Three

Step Three

  1. Paint over the white brushstrokes with a variety of colours.
  2. Colours in the foreground are the brightest.
  3. Colours in the middle ground are duller – add violet and white to dull the colour.
  4. Colours in the background are the dullest – add more white and violet.

Learning Goals

Students will be able to:

  • identify characteristics of Impressionism;
  • paint a spring landscape with a foreground, middle ground and background;
  • use a variety of brushstrokes to create visual texture;
  • demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity; 
  • support their ideas with evidence found in the works.


Have students:

  • choose one of the Impressionists to study in more depth;
  • work with peers to create a short video or dramatization based on something interesting they discovered about their artist;
  • share and critique their videos or dramatizations in a student organized film/drama festival.


  1. Prior to this lesson have students learn about seasons and signs of spring in Science class.
  2. Download and display the Space and Texture posters available on this website,
  3. Download images of Impressionist landscapes from the Internet, for example,
  4. Gather, and make available, books about the Impressionists, for example, Monet and the Impressionists for Kids: Their Lives and Ideas, by Carol Sabbeth; Katie Meets the Impressionists, by James Mayhew; Linnea in Monet's Garden, by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson; and Monet Paints a Day, by Julie Danneberg and Caitlin Heimerl.


  1. Place students in groups of about 6.
  2. Provide white paint and a variety of small brushes for each table.
  3. Demonstrate how to:
    - hold the paintbrush in different ways as you paint a variety of marks in white paint on the black paper
    - apply different amounts of pressure
    - vary the space between marks
  4. Allow students time to fill their paper with marks.
  5. Demonstrate how to paint colour on top of the white paint,
    - follow the direction of the white brushstrokes
    - add a small amount of paint
  6. Allow time for students to add colour to their practice paintings.
  7. Introduce the Impressionists and view several paintings with the class.
  8. Identify characteristics of the style, for example,
    - loose brushstrokes
    - small, visible brushstrokes
    - pure colours painted beside each other on the canvas
    - shows light and atmosphere
    - painted right outside 'en plein air'
  9. Identify the foreground, middle ground and background in the paintings.
  10. Discuss how the colour changes in each section of the paintings, for example in the Sisley landscape,
    - he has used almost pure colour in the foreground so the colours are bright and strong
    - he has added white and a small amount of blue or violet to the colours in the middle ground so they are duller and lighter
    - he has added a lot more white and blue or violet to the background colours so they are the lightest and dullest
  11. Ask students to see how their practice paintings look similar to some aspect of the Impressionist paintings they are viewing.
  12. Introduce the challenge


The Challenge

  1. Identify characteristics Impressionism.
  2. Paint a spring landscape with a foreground, middle ground and background.
  3. Use a variety of brushstrokes to create visual texture.
  4. Demonstrate technical accomplishment and creativity.
  5. Support your ideas with evidence found in the works.

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 spring
    - used a variety of brushstrokes
    - 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. When students have finished the white coat ask them to stand back and look at their work with ‘fresh eyes’ before continuing with the colour layer.
  5. Encourage them to make any adjustments and then proceed.
  6. Observe students as they work. 
  7. 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 spring

    - textures – that have been created using different brushstrokes
    contrast – how it has been used to balance the composition and get the eye to travel through the whole space
    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 - SpringLandscape_tracking.pdf)
  4. Have students use the self-assessment form to evaluate their work. (Download - SpringLandscape_self-assessment.pdf, or SpringLandscapePrimary_self-assessment.pdf)