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Schulten Cityscape Painting

Here’s a fun cityscape project, inspired by Dutch artist Ton Schulten. Instead of drawing and then painting, try painting the background first and then adding an assortment of buildings on top.

landscape painting for children
Painting in the style of Ton Schulten

One of the great things about finding art ideas on the internet is that it is so easy to do.

One of the downsides though is that you sometimes can’t find out who to credit with originally coming up with a great idea. That’s the case for this abstract landscape project.

Some brilliant teacher, I imagine, saw that the art Ton Schulten makes looks like his drawings lay on top of a wavy grid of background color. So rather than have students draw buildings and then fill them with paint, which is what 99% of art projects do, they had them paint a wavy background first, and then let those edges inspire the buildings that go on top.

First and foremost, finding a process that mixes things up a bit is always a plus. It gets all of us out of our tendency to go on auto pilot when making art.

Second, adding the building lines on top is just plain easier than trying to paint around all those little windows and doors. Especially if you are trying not to smudge colors or leave lots of white spots.

Third, working off the background shapes guarantees that there’s a cohesion between the wavy boxes of color and the design of the buildings. It comes naturally, and you could say unifies the painting, which is one of the Principles of Design (Hello lesson of the day!).

If you like the idea, but don’t have any watercolor or tempera paints on hand, I’d try it with crayons and a thick black Sharpie marker. A larger box of Crayolas should give your students more options so they can work with more than just the basic primary colors. The peaches and red violets and yellowish greens make a pretty yet soft-looking patchwork for the background.

Preview of the Schulten step by step tutorial

MATERIALS

DIRECTIONS

Time needed: 1 hour.

Make a landscape painting for children

  1. Draw 3 wavy horizontal and 3 vertical lines in pencil.

  2. Paint the inside of each block with watercolor.

  3. Draw a building in the left column.

  4. Add another in the next column, as tall or short as you want.

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