Inspire Your Young Artist to Create a Seascape Painting for Kids

May 8, 2017

A Seascape Painting for Kids

Have you ever wondered how to teach young children to clearly communicate a mood in their art? This lesson, A Seascape Painting for Kids will help them with that. Throughout history artists have shown a mood in a seascape painting through their choices of color, imagery, and symbolism.  Through this seascape activity, your young artist will explore seascapes in art history and be able to purposefully express a mood in their art.  They will also learn how to use simple perspective.

Age range:  I do this lesson with second graders, but it would be appropriate with older artists as well.

Time frame: 4 sessions, 30 minutes long.  You can opt for 2 longer sessions.

Materials:  You will need: a small paper for a quick sketch,  a piece of watercolor paper or heavyweight drawing paper for the painting, pencils,  paint brush, watercolor paint, oil pastels, green collage materials (optional)

supplies for a seascape painting

Discussion and a Quick Sketch

First of all,we start off by looking at some seascapes and wondering why they give us a certain mood or feeling.  During the discussion I encourage kids to talk about how the colors, images,  weather, and time of  day all effect the mood.

These seascape paintings can be found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Just type in seascape paintings into the search feature.

The Constitution and the Guerriere by Thomas Chambers. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Discussion questions for the seascape painting for kids:

What do you see in this painting? 

 How does it make you feel?  Why do you think it makes you feel that way? What colors did the artist choose to show the mood?

Then, repeat questions for the painting below:

Garden at Sainte-Adresse by Claude Monet from the Metropolitan Museum of Art

At the end of the discussion I show them how to sketch out a plan for our painting on a separate paper.  We start by choosing a mood.  Next, we draw two lines to break up the page, one at the top, and one at the bottom.  In addition, I introduce perspective by showing how things that are far away (top of the page) are drawn small and things that are close (at the bottom of the page) and drawn large. 

Ask your artists to look at the painting above.  Why are the boats smaller than the people? Is it because they really are, or is it because the boats are far away?

Finally, encourage them to fill the space.  They must put something in the foreground (the beach), in the middle-ground (the water), and the background.  I suggest thinking about their boats in terms of simple shapes.  A semi circle is a great place to start for a boat. Having pictures of boats on hand also helps.

a sketch of a seascape painting

Painting the Paper for the seascape painting for kids.

You will need a heavier drawing paper or watercolor paper for this step, which is separate from the quick sketch above.  In this session we simply paint the paper to fit the mood, time of day, and weather.  First, they will only draw two lines.  One line will show  the ground and the other line closer to the top, will show where the sea meets the sky.  Next, I give them a scrap of paper to experiment with blending colors before they commit to a color blend on their good paper.   Finally they will paint three sections of color on their paper.

Adding details in Oil Pastel for the seascape painting for kids

When the paint is dry, the shapes of the boats and other objects are drawn in pencil right on top of the dry paint, and lines can even be erased.  Having the rough draft on hand makes it simple.  Just enlarge what was already sketched out in the first step. 

Why not just draw it right onto the good paper in the first place?  It seems like kids want to paint around the objects which takes a long time, looks messier, and is more frustrating.  In this step we are just drawing right on top of colored paper. 

Next, your artist will color it in with the oil pastels which I describe as paint in a stick!  They blend like paint, and when you press hard it looks like paint!  If it looks like crayon they are not pressing hard enough.  The great thing about oil pastels is that kids have a lot of control, especially with small details, where paint can be a little harder in managing details.

adding pastels to a seascape painting

Adding Collage Materials for the seascape painting

This last step is optional but lots of fun.  Kids will add collage materials to the ground, or beach as you may call it.  I keep a box of green and brown scraps of a variety of materials such as yarn, cellophane, paper, and foam.  It comes in handy more often than you think.  This is what the set up looks like:

adding collage to a seascape painting

Finally, emphasize to the kids that you must shape each scrap into something that makes sense for the painting and balance it out, putting some scrap on each side.  And there you have it!  An original seascape by your young artist to reflect a mood!

a seascape painting for kids

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