Lesson Objectives: Watercolor paints are used to create a day or night sky that shows different values. Students demonstrate an understanding of color families and how a hue can be altered by creating many different values.

Time Required: 1 hour 

Artist: Lee N. Smith III,  Dance for the Hunt, Andrew Dasburg, Chantet Lane


Watercolor paper

Watercolor paints



Paper towels

Masking tape


Discuss value: the amount of light in a color. High values are high in light, resulting in a lighter color. Low values are low in light, resulting in a darker color. Discuss how varying the amount of water used in the watercolors can create different values.


  1. Have students draw a very light curvy or slightly slanted line for a horizon line. Add 4 or 5 long pieces of masking tape from the bottom third of the page up to the top. These are the birch trees, so the tape needs to going all the way off the top of the page.
  1. Students choose between either the warm or cool colors to paint the sky. Beginning with the most intense color at the horizon line, students paint along the horizon line, up the page while varying the intensity in the colors, creating a variety of values. They paint the entire sky, right over the tape.
  1. When the sky is complete, wash out the color from the brush and do a light painting on the bottom of the horizon line with the colored water. This will continue the relief of the trees on the landscape.
  1. After the background is painted, students carefully peel off the tape and add the dark lines to the trees and shadow lines at the bases.  Be sure to explain how the light source will determine the direction of the shadows and why they will all run in basically the same direction.
  1. Mount onto a coordinating mat.