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Lesson #1:

Foreground, Background, and Middleground

Foreground, Background, and Middleground are essential components to create depth in a piece of artwork.

Whenever you look out your window you notice what objects are closer to you and what objects are farther away from you. 

By dividing your art into foreground, middle ground, and background you can mimic the look of depth in your artwork that you see in everyday life. 


Foreground refers to the part of your image that is the closest to you. It is usually at the bottom of the image, although not always.

Objects in the foreground should appear larger. These objects will have a lot of detail in them and the colors should be bold. This is the part of your image that will have the highest contrast (darkest darks and brightest brights) 


Background refers to the part of your image that is farthest away from you. The objects in the background will appear smaller and faded in color. There should not be a lot of detail in these elements


This refers to the part of the image between the foreground and the background. The size, color, and detail of these elements should be halfway between the foreground and the background.


Activity # 1: Landscape


You can choose to follow along with the video, follow my picture instructions, or both.

Supplies Needed: 

-white paper



-ruler (optional)

-Marker (optional)

-colors (your choice: crayons, pencil crayons, paint, pastels, markers, etc.)

Remember to take a photo of your artwork and send it to me at so that I can share it on our Gallery page!

Activity #2 : Boxed Environments

Follow the instructions below. 

Supplies Needed:

a box- any size, open on one side


glue or tape

images (cut from magazines, drawn, or printed)

optional: paint, markers, any 3-D materials you want (like sticks or moss)

boxes example.png

Step 1: get a box. cut it so that it is open on one side (a shoe box will already be open) 


Step 3: Sort your images.

The largest objects are closer to you and therefore should go into the foreground.

Medium sized objects go into the middleground.

Your background is your backdrop and should be small and far away.







Step 5: Get some scrap paper or cardboard and cut into pieces. Fold those pieces in half to make tabs that will help your images stand up. Take your middle ground pieces and use the tabs to attach them to the box. Think about where you are placing them before you secure them.

Step 7 (Optional): Finish your box by painting any exposed cardboard and adding in 3-D elements and accessories if desired like this awesome example:


Step 2: Find or create images that interest you. Consider: Do you want to make an outdoor or an indoor scene? is this underwater? What environment do you want to create?

(I cut out images for 3 options and chose my favorite.)




Step 4: Glue or paint your background. If you can find an appropriate background image attach it to the inside back of your box. If you cannot find what you are looking for then paint or draw your backdrop on the inside back of the box








Step 6: Using more tabs, attach your foreground elements to the front of the box. 


Remember to take a photo of your hard work and send it to me at 


Lesson 2:

Drawing from Life

A lot of creating art is in the way that you see shapes, lines, and colors in the world around you. Good art comes from looking closely at things. Every artist in the world has practiced their skills by drawing a still life. The term still life refers to artwork that was made by looking at something in real life (not a photograph or a made-up image) to make art. Still life artwork helps you to improve your skills of observation as well as your art skills.

This week we are going to learn about drawing from life by practicing drawing plants. Plants make a good subject for life drawing because they are interesting, unique, alive, and yet stay pretty still while you are drawing them.  When you start to draw a plant look at it first and identify what the center of the plant is. For a branch or a tree the center of the plant is the trunk- it is the spine. Draw that first (press lightly as you may want to erase parts of it later if there are leaves in front of it). For a flower you want to start with the center because all of the petals grow out from the center point. Add on the shapes that you see as you move out. DO NOT erase any lines until you are mostly done. When you draw a petal on a flower you may think it needs to look like a petal- but in reality it is a triangle, or a heart shape. Copy the shape as you see it -even if it is weird.

These drawings are never perfect- do not expect it to be! But they are always cool experiments so be brave!

still life.jpg
botanical drawing 2.jpg

Activity 1: Drawing Plants

branch 1.jpg

Find an interesting plant that you would like to draw

branch 2.jpg

If it is a flower start in the center. If it is a branch start with the stem. Copy the basic shape and angles.

branch 3.jpg

Start adding elements one by one. I started with the triangleish shaped leaf at the bottom of the branch. I noticed that it went underneath the branch.

branch 5.jpg

Slowly add more elements one at a time. Only look at the one element that you are drawing and its shape.

branch 7.jpg
branch 9.jpg
branch 10.jpg
branch 11.jpg

Continue adding as many of the elements as you would like. Stop when you feel it is done. I did not draw all of the leaves on my branch, I stopped when I felt that it was finished to my liking.

You can add color if you would like. Look closely at the colors in the object. I saw reds and oranges in the stem of my branch so I used those colors there. I saw some blue green tones in my leaves adn some red veins in them as well.

If you would like, at the end you can go back over some of your drawing lines with a black pen to make them stand out. 

Remember to take a picture of your completed work and send it to me at:

Here are some other examples:

full 1.jpg
full 2.jpg
full 3.jpg
full 4.jpg
flower 1.jpg
flower 2.jpg
flower 3.jpg
flower 5.jpg
flower 6.jpg
flower 7.jpg
flower 8.jpg
flower 9.jpg
full 5.jpg
danddilion full.jpg

Lesson 3: Playing with Paint

For the next few activities you will need to have access to paints and paper. Thicker paper is better for these activities as the paint is water based and will cause thin paper to ripple or even tear. If you only have regular printer paper available, please make sure to use as little water as possible so that it does not rip the paper. You can use cardboard but cardboard or paper that is treated with plastic (the shiny smooth side) will not absorb the water or paint.

Watch the video (I know it isn’t the most exciting video) and pay attention to the way that the paint reacts differently to the amount of water added. 

In the next 2 activities you will try a variety of these techniques.

Activity 1: Outer Space

Supplies Needed:

Two (or more) pieces of thick paper







Round objects to trace

Modge-podge or watered down white school glue


Step 1: On one piece of paper, draw a rectangle inside of the paper. That is the area that you will paint.


Step 2: Wet the paper a little bit by dipping your brush into the water and painting the paper with a little water first (DO NOT SOAK IT) Using dark, cool colors (green, blue, violet, black) gently paint the background. Make sure to have a variety of color and tone – leave some lighter parts. DO NOT USE TOO MUCH BLACK- start with just a touch of black, you can always add more but if you put in too much it is hard to take it away. Fill the whole box and even go past the lines a little. I painted past the line of my rectangle- that is okay because we will be cutting it out later so it looks like we have clean edges.

When I did mine I found the colors were too much for a moody space scene so I took some extra paper and dabbed the parts that I found too strong. This is called blotting- it is a way to remove some of the paint. You can use this technique if you would like.

When your background is finished put it aside to dry.

Step 3: Take your second piece of paper and trace a bunch of circular objects. I traced a highlighter, a cup, and two different sizes of paint bottles. Objects of mass in space always collapse into a sphere (ball) because mass of a certain size creates its own gravity that pulls the mass together towards a center point in and even way- hence the sphere, so in order to have a realistic space scene your planets should be circular.


Step 4: Using light warm colors (yellow, orange, red, tan, white) DRY BRUSH color across the planets. Remember dry brush means that you are using little to no water for this. Lightly brush the paint across your sphere and don’t be afraid to mix colors and have white paper showing through. You can use as many or as little of these planets in your final piece so experiment. You should paint past the lines here as well because we will be cutting them out but make sure you can still see most of the lines.  Put this aside to dry.

Step 5: When your Background is dry take white paint (if you want you can mix a hint of yellow to your white) and put stars into your sky. You can do this by taking a small brush with a bit of paint on the end and dotting them randomly across the page or you could try splatter painting. Splatter painting can be messy so be warned. To do it load your paintbrush with lots of paint and tap the handle on your finger a few inches above the paper. This is a way to get random and uncontrollable spots on your page.


Step 6: Go back to your planets once they are dry and cut them out.


Step 7: Choose where you want your planets to sit on your background. Try a few arrangements to see what you like. Note: They do not have to all be in the rectangle. I put a few of mine half in, half out.

Step 8: Using your modge-podge or white school glue attach the planets to the background. Put a layer of glue underneath the planet and then cover the entire top of the planet and put a little extra along the edges to make sure it doesn’t curl up. Use enough glue but be careful you do not get large globs of glue as it won’t dry clear if it is too thick.  

Step 9: Once it is totally dry, carefully cut along your rectangular outline so that you have a clean looking painting!


Activity 2: Firework Sky

Supplies Needed:


Masking Tape,

Oil Pastels,

Watercolor Paint,




Step 1: Tape your paper down to a surface. 

Step 2: Draw your fireworks with oil pastels. The oil pastel will resist the paint meaning that the paint will not go in that area

Step 3: Draw a silhouette of something on the bottom of the page. This could be a city-scape, trees, and animal outline, anything!

Step 4: Using your water wet the paper to get it ready to do a wash of paint

Step 5: add your paint (darkest color on the top and fade it down to the lightest color) 

Step 6: While the paint is sopping wet add salt to the sky

Step 7: Let it dry

Step 8: Peel the tape off carefully

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