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Background, Middleground, Foreground

This past weekend I was searching Pinterest for art ideas to teach background, middleground and foreground to my students.  In my mind I knew how it had to go but it’s a tricky concept so I wanted some clear step by step activities that would help them understand using perspective in art.  As per usual Pinterest did not disappoint.  It linked me to an awesome blog – Deep Space Sparkle Art Lessons for Kids where it demonstrated having kids paint a winter landscape using the three elements of perspective (background, middleground, foreground).  If you are from Ontario then you know that today was certainly a winter landscape so I knew today was a perfect day for this lesson.


First Recess on Mount Massey

Normally when I teach art lesson I start with an artist example and then introduce the activity using by modelling the skills but I’m really open to the student interpretation of the activity.  But for this lesson I took a different approach.  I used the document camera and together we did the steps 1 at a time. I didn’t explain to students why were were doing the steps in the order we were as I wanted them to have some discovery and figure out perspective without me directly telling them. I have to admit I was a little nervous that the projects would come out cookie cutter but the results were spectacular and the students finished with a solid understanding of perspective.  When we were done I had the students leave their paintings on their desk and do a walkabout the room.  This brought out some really awesome insights from the kids.

Timothy said – “Wow!  It looks 3D”

Aneka shared – “It looks like you can walk through our forest pictures”

Mehak said- “The light trees look far away and the darker the paint gets the closer the trees look.”

Mya told us – “You know if you paint the background things small and the up front things big that makes it look close and far away too!”

Adam said- “I thought it was going to be a problem painting the dark trees on top of the light trees but it makes it look real”

Falicia said – ” We all did the same thing but the pictures all look different!”

Overall I think this lesson was a success.  The pictures show their individual artistic style and they were able to illicit the key messages from perspective that I was hoping they would get out of it.


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