Grade Level

5-6, 7-8, 9-10


10 periods, 45 minutes in length


Variety of acrylic brushes, variety of acrylic paint (bottles are more practical) in basic colors, paper appropriate for acrylic paint (I like Strathmore 400 Series Acrylic Pad, Linen Finish, 9″x12″ Glue Bound, sold in pads of 10 Sheets), water cups, brush cleaner, painter’s tape, cardboard
optional: modeling paste, and acrylic gel medium, acrylic retarder


Painting, Acrylic

Lesson Objectives

The student will…

practice a variety of landscape painting techniques

create a landscape painting identifying the best use of these techniques in their landscape imagery.

look critically at landscapes in art history and identify techniques in the work of masters.

practice and apply color theory. For example how to use cool colors to create areas of shadow.

Introductory Activity

Introduce students to the concept of background, middle ground, and foreground and have them look at landscapes to identify what is located in these areas of the painting. Also, introduce students to the idea of a focal point and ask what the focal point is in some landscape paintings from art history.

You will also need to demonstrate how to set up a palette, how much paint is needed, and how to clean up and care for brushes. Generally, teachers report The bottom dispensing condiment squeeze bottles to be the most effective way to manage paint storage and distribution. See List Resources for a link to the style recommended.

Next, Introduce students to landscape painting terms and techniques. Provide a student with a piece of paper and divide it into grids. In each grid box, a student will label the technique and practice the techniques that you demonstrate first (document cameras are great for this purpose). See the first resource for an example. Techniques can vary but may include: detailing, dry brush, dabbing, glazing, impasto (with palette knife), sgraffito, underpainting, and wet-on-wet. There is a landscape handout with tips and vocabulary relevant to the lesson in the List of Resources in this lesson.

Next, have students find a landscape photo and print it as a reference. Or provide laminated photos for selecting from. I would suggest requiring students to be able to identify a focal point and define what is happening in the background, middle ground, and foreground.

Lesson Process

Provide students with a final sheet of paper for their project. Tape the paper, ideally with painter’s tape, to a piece of stiff cardboard. Start by painting a bright color. If their painting is mostly blues and greens, maybe a bright orange. Contrast the underpainting color with the final color. Look at the examples in the lesson and you will see evidence of the underpainting peeking out. By painting a bright color, you create richer colors that sizzle in contrast.

After that, have students lightly sketch the sections of the landscape, Not in detail. Define the horizon line and major shapes so they have a road map so to speak. Have them examine their paintings and define what techniques will be utilized where and develop a plan in their sketchbook or on scrap paper.

Next, break things up into daily goals where students work from the back to the front of the painting. Encourage students to work slowly, and use thoughtful and controlled paint application. Set goals. Play calming music. The calmer the class, the more they focus, and the better the outcomes. Remind them that much is suggested rather than painstakingly illustrated, less is more often in landscape painting.

When the landscape is complete, carefully peel the tape away at an angle so as not to potentially rip the paper into the painting. Tip: for stubborn tape, use a hair drier to help loosen the tape with the heat. This will reveal a crisp white edging.


underpainting, glazing, detailing, dry brush, dabbing, impasto, sgraffito,  wet-on-wet, palette knife


Acrylic Painting Techniques – YouTube
About Landscape Painting Handout
Squeeze bottles for paint, highly recommend!

Author & Website/Blog

Supporting Images