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Spooky Trees Project

This spooky trees art project makes the best of both chalk pastels and tempera paint. Crisp black shadows on a fuzzy, foggy sky is a winning combination. And in this case, very easy to do.

spooky trees art project

A successful project happens when the right subject matter merges with the perfect media.

Sounds simple, but it’s harder to come across than one would think.

This combo worked so well for me that I used variations of it for almost every grade level for many years. Want to know a few reasons why?

  1. An old CD makes for the perfect moon template. Use 9″ x 12″ paper and it will be just the right size and easy to trace.
  2. Almost any two colors of chalk pastel will look AMAZING. Just fill in the background (not the moon!) and blend with your fingers. Done.
  3. Black tempera cakes will be your new best friend. Students can control how opaque their black is by watching how much water they use to soften the cakes. When they get the right ratio, the tempera will make the blackest of black paint. Perfect for very black shadows that totally cover up anything underneath.
  4. Trees that are “drawn” with a brush (not a pencil) are about 1000x more realistic looking. Students may doubt you at first, but trust me. The brush and paint make wonderfully wobbly lines that can be thickened and added to until things look as old as can be.

So, if you have been avoiding using chalk pastels because you frankly never saw the benefit of dealing with all the dust afterwards, you might want to give this a try. It’s got an enthusiastic thumbs up from me.









Time needed: 1 hour.


  1. Trace a CD near the top of a 9″ x 12″ sheet of paper with a pencil.

    It will be your full moon.

  2. Color the background of the moon with blue and purple chalk pastel.

    Blend by shading and blending with your fingers. Take care to not make too much chalk dust so the moon stays clean and white.

  3. Soften the black tempera cake with a generous amount of water, or until the paint is very black.

    Start painting the tree with the brush. (Younger students can just paint a straight tree, and older ones can play with the perspective and make it angled.)

  4. Add thickness to your tree trunk and branches so it looks old.

    Paint any other details of the tree that you might think of.


There are more fun and easy drawing tutorials like this one, in my HALLOWEEN DRAWING ebook. It contains 25 brand new tutorials that first timers can try out to draw new shapes, and the more experienced can use as a starting point before adding their own twists, and details, and shadows.

Each project includes easy to follow step-by-step tutorial, a full size line drawing for reference, and finished color sample. Just click on the title or book to learn more.

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