"A Faithful Attempt" is designed to showcase a variety of K-12 art lessons, the work of my art students, as well as other art-related topics. Projects shown are my take on other art teacher's lessons, lessons found in books or else designed by myself.
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Friday, September 30, 2011

Autumn Birch Trees

As the leaves are quickly changing colour where I live, I though I'd better post this fall landscape project.  It's a 'autumnal' take on the infamous 'winter birch tree' project. It uses masking tape to create the trees and all students can be successful with this type of project. For pretty much all of my projects, I do an initial demonstration to teach new techniques, discuss the materials, introduce new artists, etc, but then let the students interpret the project in their own way. This way, the more tentative students are given ideas as a starting point and the more creative ones can experiment more.

To start off with, Grade 8 students looked at the painting "Forest of Birch Trees", (1902) by Austrian artist Gustav Klimt. Discuss the range of fall colours and the textures created by the fallen leaves
and the birch bark.

Forest of Birch Trees, 1902, Gustav Klimt

Have a variety of sizes of masking tape available, or at least a thin one.

Students cut off a variety of different lengths of tape and put it onto a piece of their clothing beforehand to gather some lint on it and take away alot of the stickiness. This way it won't rip the paper when we take it off at the end. Draw a horizon line on a sheet of heavy white paper and begin placing the 'tape trees'. Thicker tape goes in the foreground and thinner tape in the background. This will help create an illusion of depth. Some students chose to cut their tape along the edges to create 'less straight' trees. The tape works really well as birch trees are naturally quite straight and smooth.

Press down the edges of the tape to make sure it's on securely.

Paint the sky, with watercolours or tempera discs, then give the ground an overall wash of an ochre colour. Encourage colour mixing of Autumn colours such as yellows, oranges, browns.

Using an old round bristle brush, start stippling fall colours on. Pounce the paint onto the paper in an up-and-down stippling motion. This gives the illusion of leaves and texture. I tend to start with the lightest and work my way up to darker colours: yellow, oranges, ochres, browns, touches of green. Let dry.

The next class, students can slowly peel off the tape to reveal the white trees. Don't worry if some paint has seeped through; it will get obscured by the shadows and birch bark markings.

Now to add some shading to these to make them look like they're in a dark forest. Paint them in washes of grey. Add a darker shade of grey along one side of each tree. Let dry a bit.

Finally, using a thin brush, paint grey/black markings along the bark.
The final paintings look very nice mounted onto blue paper.

Grade 8 results: Ta da!


Dolunay -Alanayarts said...

hepsi de harika olmuş.tebrik ediyorum.bravo.

Miss said...

Alanay: teşekkür ederim! Thanks!

Kathy said...

Marvelous! My sixth graders have done this lesson as the winter birch trees, but never the autumn ones. We must put this on the to do list for October. Thank you for the detailed directions.

Christie - Fine Lines said...

I always love seeing these forest scenes displayed together. It gives such a peaceful feel!!

Chesterbrook Academy Elementary said...

These trees are so beautiful.
I love the textures and colors.
Your students did an amazing job.

Your tutorials always helpful.


Miss said...

Thanks Kathy, Fine Lines and Chesterbrook!

Anonymous said...

I have wanted to try this with my students but didn't feel courageous enough until I read your tutorial. Thanks so much!

ГридинаТатьяна Теодоровна said...

Birchwood! Great! I just love it!

Mrs. Skojec said...

Of all the birch tree paintings I've seen, this is the one I love the most! Until now, I didn't really want to do one. Thanks.

Kate Eshelman said...

Thank you for posting this lesson and including images of all of the steps. The paintings are beautiful!

Katharina Hille said...

I have an improvement: Instead of cutting the tape and placing it on the paper, first, carefully TEAR the masking tape vertically. Then slightly overlap the tape from the two outside edges. The outer edges will then be the torn edges. These look more natural than the totally straight edge from the tape. I tried this with my class and the trees look very natural. Try it!

Miss said...

Thank you everyone! I hope you try it out!

Bidt af billedkunst said...

I have tried it! Or at least used it as an inspiration for my 3. graders. :-) It is so nice and pretty. I love the birch trees. You can see it here, if you like.


I have linked to your page as well. Thanks for being so inspirational. :-)

Miss said...

Lisbeth- I'm so glad you tried this project- your kids did a GREAT job! Thanks for your comment and the link mention on your post :) Much appreciated!

Silvia said...

Thank you very much to sharing this project!!!I'm sure that my class will appreciate this job!!!
Smiles from Italy!!! ^_^

Kym said...

Beautiful! I'm glad I found your blog - my daughter just did a series of birch tree paintings using this tutorial. I shared her work on my homeschool blog: http://kympossibleblog.blogspot.com/2015/08/virtual-refrigerator-gustav-klimt.html

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