Trees in gradation


In  classes of  7th Grade (12 year-old) we have painted a forest of trees without preliminary drawing, using directly the brushes and the acrylics paints on the white paper. To make the effect of the depth we painted different color planes in tonal gradation. Most of the students chose to use black and white, while someone has used a color instead of black. We talked about the concept of MONOCHROME in art, such as a painting, a drawing or a picture, made ​​with a single range of colors in tonal gradation.












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  1. Very nice final product! I’m curious… how long did these take to complete?

    • Hi! my students completed the painting in around 100 minutes. They painted directly on the paper, without preparatory drawing, so the work is quite quick

  2. These are wonderful!

  3. Did the paints smear when they added a darker value over the previous value of trees?

    • Hi Brandon (is it your name?), We used tempera painting that dries very fast, but sometimes we had to wait until the previous value was dry. Sometimes we also used a hair dryer. 🙂

  4. In the body of our text, you say you used acrylic paint, but in the comments you mention tempura. Did you use a mix of the two?

    • Hi Anne Eugenio!
      Tempera painting is a kind of color more cheap than acrylic, we often use this at school because of the cost! Acrylics are more brilliant, more fluid and dry more slowly than tempera. Tempera is a sort of gouache and is easier work with acrylics rather than tempera. Is possible to mix together tempera and acrylic paintings, but if you have the possibility to use just acrylics is much better for you and your students. 🙂

  5. Hi Miriam,
    Nice lesson, but I don’t think you actually answered the question posted by Anne Eugenio. You stated the difference between tempera & acrylic but which did you actually use in the lesson? I’m a midlife career changer and just started teaching and am always looking for lessons. I taught high school last year but budget was cut so out I went and this year I am in middle school so I have to revamp my lessons and get some new ideas. Thank you for sharing yours!

    • I use tempera at school, sorry for the misunderstanding, my english is not so good!
      At Middle School in Italy we buy always tempera painting, because is cheap, some translations call it “Gouache”. I know that abroad (in UK for example) you can find excellent acrylics paintings for good price. I don’t know about USA, but I’m sure that the market of colors depend on the country, and acrylics are better than italian tempera paint.

  6. I am going to use this lesson at the art center where I teach in CT, USA. Thank you so much!

    • I Debra! Thanks for sharing your experience, I’ very glad to share ideas around the world! Good luck for your lesson 😉

  7. Shelley says:

    This is an amazing activity and the work produced all looks fantastic, the students are lucky they have a teacher with such awesome ideas.

    • Thank you Shelley, for your nice comment! Actually I’m always a bit worry to propose that kind of activity: I wonder if students can really do this kind of difficult works! At the end I am always surprised, because they are more talented than I think! 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing this cool lesson. My daughter spent all last Spring semester at the Sienna school, while living with a family there. It was glorious, Italy!!

    • Wow Julie! She spent some months in Siena? It’s one of the most beautiful place in Italy! Thank for your comment, I hope you could visit Italy too 😉

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