Nature Study

Nature Mural

Summer art project. Size is 3 feet across by 4 feet long.

Project time was approximately 6 weeks, working 10-15 minutes per day.

Mural 1

Nature Mural, ages 9-12


  • Bulletin board paper
  • Wax paper
  • Pencils
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic paints (red, yellow, blue, black, white)
  • Watercolor paints (standard palette)
  • Painting tarps, t-shirts, towels, tape, water


  • Tape wax paper to wall with painters tape.
  • Tape bulletin board paper over wax paper.

(The wax paper prevents any paint from seeping through.  If you have a large roll of butchers paper / freezer paper with the waxed backing, that can be used as well).

  • Choose a scene and animals.
    • Print out images from the internet to find poses and colorations.
    • Sketch a background.  (In this case, Mom sketched the dock and the horizon line).
    • Have kids take turns sketching animals, plants, etc.

Mural 2

I suggest only one child working at a time, unless they are feeling particularly chummy!

  • After all sketching is done, paint animals using acrylic paint.
    • Have the kids mix all their own colors using only primary colors (blue/red/yellow) with black and white for dark/light tones.
  • Paint background objects using acrylic paint.

Mural 3

  • Let dry thoroughly..
  • Paint water using watered-down watercolors. The watercolor can be washed over everything, so neatness is not needed.
    • Waves were added in with acrylics later.
    • Small details can be added with paint or even sharpies if needed (we sharpied in the herons’ orange eyes).

Mural 4

20 Ways to Draw…

The Idea

Find a drawing book to bridge the middle years (ages 9-11).

The Execution

My littlest kids (ages 5-7) have always enjoyed Ed Emberley’s drawing books.  But one by one they would grow out of these books, or simply be ready for something a little more challenging, a little more realistic.  I spent years trying to find a good drawing book for ages 9-11, or even a book with simple drawings that weren’t childish.  One day I was browsing the book section at Cass Art in London when I found it!  A whole series entitled “20 Ways to Draw….”  So far we own 20 Ways to Draw a Tree (nature subjects) and 20 Ways to Draw a Cat (animals).

Art 75 Art 77

The Extension

The realistic nature of these drawings makes them a good reference for nature journaling.  Use these drawing techniques and ideas to learn more about leaf and tree shapes, bark texture, snowflake crystals, etc.

Art 47