Lesson Objectives: Students will learn how to create the illusion of texture through watercolor and tempera paint in a winter scene.

Time Required: 1½ hours (can be divided into 2 sessions)

Artist: Melissa Miller, “Zebras and Hyenas

A Polar Bear Journey by Debbie S. Miller and Jon Van Zyle (great illustrations of polar bears)

Source: http://thatartistwoman.blogspot.com/2010/01/polar-bears-update.html                                         


Watercolor paper 9×12



Dixie cups


Watercolors: Blue, Purple


Plastic Wrap

White and black tempera paint


Paintbrushes (small)



Discuss the difference between real and implied texture. Show pictures of polar bears.

Procedure, Step 1:

  1. Pass out watercolor paper. Write names on back. Orient horizontally.
  2. Using a pencil, draw a simple horizon line dividing the land and the sky with hills and valleys.
  3. Using the wet-on-wet technique, have students paint the sky (the portion above the horizon line) with water only.
  4. Then, go back over with purple watercolor. It should be a very wet wash so the color will flow easily.
  5. While still wet, cover top of Dixie cup with Kleenex, and touch Kleenex to the watercolor on the paper. The Kleenex over the top of the Dixie cup will absorb the color, leaving behind a simple moon.
  6. While still wet, sprinkle salt over the purple color. The salt will absorb the color, leaving behind the illusion of snow in the purple sky.
  7. Now proceed to the area below the horizon line: the ice. Working carefully, again use the wet-on-wet technique so that the entire bottom portion of the paper is wet. Do not paint into the purple sky!
  8. Go over the wet paper with the blue watercolor.
  9. While wet, lay plastic wrap over the blue watercolor and scrunch it up. The more wrinkled it is, the better the results. Leave as is with plastic wrap on until it is completely dry. 

Procedure, Step 2: (Can be done on the same day or a different day. Make sure watercolor is dry before you proceed!)

  1. Using white tempera paint mixed with glue to thicken, have students paint 3 polar bears: one mama and 2 babies. The mama polar bear is basically a rectangular shape with a triangular shaped head. The baby polar bears are basically little blobs of paint.
  2. Add details with black paint and toothpicks: eyes, noses, claws on feet.
  3. Let dry. Mount and return to students.