Lesson Objectives: Students will draw and paint a city skyline using watercolors and a wax resist technique. Students will use simple lines to create shape and space.

Time Required:      1 hour

Artist: Gene Steffin, New York, New York


9”x12” Watercolor paper taped to cardboard

Wax paper



Watercolor paints

Large and small paintbrushes

Water and cups


Discuss line and how it relates to shape and space.  Review watercolor techniques that will be used in this project (wet on wet and wax resist). If possible show pictures of city skylines, notice and emphasize the wide variety of contour shapes to the buildings and their windows.


  1. Have students put their names on the tape before beginning.  Orient the paper horizontally. Set a sheet of wax paper over the paper to completely cover it.  Tape down the wax paper on four sides or corners.
  2. Have students carefully draw contour drawings of city buildings with pencil on the wax paper, applying enough pressure to transfer the line of wax to the page, but not so hard as to rip the wax paper.  Be sure to fill the page from side to side.  Remind them to give their structures windows and to fill in the windows with pencil. Use a variety of thick and thin lines: thicker lines will have better results.
  3. When the drawing is complete, remove the wax paper.
  4. Take a broad brush or clean sponge and wet down the entire page.
  5. Paint in the sky area with blue watercolor just up to the contour lines of the shapes.
  6. Using black, paint in the buildings. The wax will resist the paint, leaving the windows white.
  7. With yellow and very little water, go back and add yellow to the moon, windows, stars, etc.