Color Landscape Collage- A lesson plan

THUNDERSTORM IN THE ROMAN CAMPAGNA, 1868. Albert Venus (German, 1842–1871) Oil on canvas, 37 x 58 in. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection, 1872.497


Students will use basic collage and layering techniques to create a multi-media landscape. Students will learn about the composition of space within a landscape.


Opening Discussion & Background

Today I want to teach you that landscape artists use color and composition to portray the subjects of their paintings. I want to show you some landscape paintings and teach you a little about the artist who created them. When we are looking at the landscapes, will you pay attention to what’s in the front, the middle, and the back? What is in the front is called the foreground. What is in the middle is called the middle ground. What do you think the back of a landscape painting is called? The background!

When we are done viewing these paintings, you are going to create your own landscape. We will be using mixed media materials and collage techniques. 


 THUNDERSTORM IN THE ROMAN CAMPAGNA, 1868. Albert Venus (German, 1842–1871) Oil on canvas, 37 x 58 in. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection, 1872.497

THUNDERSTORM IN THE ROMAN CAMPAGNA, 1868. Albert Venus (German, 1842–1871) Oil on canvas, 37 x 58 in. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection, 1872.497

Show Thunderstorm in the Roman Campagna, Albert Venus. Begin by having the students describe what they see in the painting. Explain to the students that there are more natural objects in the painting than man-made objects. Do you see the building in the distance? What term/s do we use to refer to a picture of natural scenery (landscape)? Discuss new terms such as landscape and composition. Discuss the use of color. Name some colors you see being used in the artwork.

UNTITLED (MONTEREY PINES), N.D.  Mary DeNeale Morgan (American, 1868–1948)  Oil on board, 24 x 24 in. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Yvonne LeMaitre in memory of her father Loren LeMaitre, grandmother Myrtle Murphy LeMaitre Meek and great uncle M. J. Murphy, 2007.125.

Show Untitled (Monterey Pines), Mary DeNeale Morgan. Explain that artists often divide landscapes into three sections to break up the space of the picture and differentiate the things that are closer to you in the painting from things that are farther away. Explain to students that they will be using cool colors for the foreground, a mix of cool and warm colors for the middle ground, and warm colors for the background. Explain that they are using elements of art, such as shapes/forms, lines, and color.

Maija Peeples-Bright (American, born 1942), detail: Walrus Willamette with Whale Walkers, 1982. Oil on canvas. Crocker Art Museum, gift of Judy and Richard Mallet, 2001.2

Show Walrus Willamette with Whale Walkers, by Maija Peeples Bright. Use Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS). Ask them the following questions: What is going on in this painting? What do you see that makes you say that? What more can we find? Discuss Bright’s use of warm and cool colors. Point out that the artist uses perspective throughout her painting. Objects in the background appear smaller than the objects in the foreground. Point out her use of texture.

Thomas Hill (American, born England, 1829–1908)  Great Canyon of the Sierra. Oil on canvas, 72 x 120 in. Crocker Art Museum, E. B. Crocker Collection, 1872.423.

Show Great Canyon of the Sierra, Yosemite, Thomas Hill. Ask the students to look over the painting for a few moments. Begin by asking them the following questions: Are the mountains larger then the trees in the middle ground or vise-versa? What makes you say that? Make the connection that things in the foreground and middle ground are larger than the objects in the background.




This lesson requires collage materials. It is up to you to decide how you would like to keep and/or distribute the materials.  Do you want to have the students sit in table groups with materials in the center? Do you want a scrap paper desk and a miscellaneous craft supply desk?


  1. Each student starts with a piece of paper and a pencil. Have the students sketch out their landscape. Students are ready to begin the collage step when they have included foreground, middle ground, and background in their sketches.
  2. Students may collect their collage materials (or begin using from their table groups)
  3. Layering is a common collage technique.
    • Model layering the collage paper. Begin with the background, add the middle ground, and then the foreground.
    • Challenge the students to use warm colors for the background, such as the sky (yellows, reds, oranges, etc.) and cool colors for the foreground, such as the ground (brown, green, blue, etc.). You may use a mix of both warm and cool colors for the middle ground
  4. Students may add embellishments if available (feathers, seeds, etc.)


1. Clean up. Ask students to clean up and return all materials. Everything but their work of art needs to be cleared off the table. Scraps that can be reused should be put back in the bin or can be recycled. Have students check under the floor for any scraps or other materials that need to be put away. When the floor and tables ae cleaned, have them sit in front of their landscapes Their artwork should remain at their desk for the “gallery walk” to conclude the lesson.

2. Class and/or table group discussion. What did we learn? What was challenging? What felt familiar? Shout-outs to helpful neighbors?

3. “Gallery walk”. Students will leave their artwork at their desk to be previewed by their classmates. (If they do not want to share, offer to turn over work). Invite students to line up behind you with their arms behind their backs. Discuss museum manners (hands to self, positive remarks). Slowly “snake” around the table groups so students may view the work of their peers.


Adaptations and Extensions

Once students are getting close to finishing up their landscapes, you may offer them a chance to add on other materials as embellishment. Have a small tray with buttons, rhinestones, small fuzzy tube strips, etc. (Optional)

Consider a writing activity from the perspective of someone inside their created landscape. What would the person smell, hear, taste, feel? Could they write a letter home or a letter to a loved one?

Step further: Students can create a landscape that pops out! Have them cut up their landscape into three sections: foreground, middle ground and background. Using folded paper and double-sided tape (puff tape), have students attach the folded paper in between papers (example: middle ground to background and foreground to middle ground).

Encourage students to cover up the whole page and to use a number of materials throughout the lesson.



HSS: Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies (RH.6-8.2; RH.6-8.5; RH.6-8.6; RH.9-10.2; RH.9-10.5; RH.9-10.6; RH.11-12.2; RH.11-12.5; RH.11-12.6)

3.VA:Cn11 Recognize that responses to art change depending on knowledge of the time and place in which it was made
4.VA:Cn11 Through observation, infer information about time, place, and culture in which a work of art was created
6.VA:Cn11 Analyze how art reflects changing times, traditions, resources, and cultural uses

English Language Arts
Key Ideas and Details, Craft and Structure, Integration of Knowledge and Ideas, Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity
Speaking and Listening
Comprehension and Collaboration, Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas
Conventions of Standard English, Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

Visual Arts

3.VA:Cr1.1 Elaborate on an imaginative idea

4.VA:Cr1.2 Collaboratively set goals and create artwork that is meaningful and has purpose to the makers

5.VA:Cr2.2 Demonstrate quality craftsmanship through care for and use of materials, tools, and equipment.

6.VA:Cr2.1 Demonstrate openness in trying new ideas, materials, methods, and approaches in making works of art and design.


  • Background Paper 9 X 12 in.
  • Warm and cool colored card stock paper
  • Scrap paper (pattern, plain, textured)
  • Scissors
  • Glues sticks
  • Puff tape (optional)
  • Craft oddities for embellishments (feathers, seeds, beans, etc)


90 Minutes

Grade Level



  • English/Language Arts
  • History/Social Studies
  • Visual Art


  • Female Artist
  • Landscape


  • Collage


Mallorie Marsh, adapted by Brittany Thurman