Lesson 13

The Urban Landscape

Art Projects for Primary School Students by Raquel Redmond

Chroma Art supplies, chromaonline.com

Chroma2 paint, from Chroma  Australia has been used in this painting tutorial.

Art Technique


Age Group

Appropriate for students 6–14 years of age


Students express their ideas about the urban landscape from a birds eye perspective using colour, linework, shapes and textures.


2 x 90 minute sessions plus an additional one hour session.

Room arrangement


  • 1 x A3 size cartridge paper or brown/kraft paper that has been primed with Chromacryl gesso, per student OR
  • 1 18 x 14 inch canvas sheet per student
  • 1 A4 photocopy reference of a city map per student
  • 1 10 x 15cm window with a 4cm wide border (post card size) to use as a view finder per student
  • Masking tape to tape the view finder to the map
  • 1 x 2 litre bottle of Chroma2 paint in the following primary colours: white, black, warm and cool yellow, warm and cool blue, warm and cool red per class
  • 1 x #6 hog hair paint brush per student
  • 1 x #4 hog hair paint brush per student
  • 2 boxes of natural charcoal (willow charcoal) per class
  • 1 x rag per student for cleaning
  • 2 x water containers for each group of 4 to 6 desks
  • 2 x ice cube trays containing a range of different coloured paint for each group of 4 to 6 desks. Any other small plastic containers with lids are also suitable.
  • 1 x roll of plastic cling wrap to cover the paint trays at the end of each session
  • 1 x newspaper to cover desks
  • 1 x roll of masking tape to secure the newspaper to the desktop per class
  • 1 to 2 sheets of scrap paper per student to mix their colours (easily disposable at the end of the session)
  • 1 x plastic bucket with soapy water
  • 1 x non-abrasive scouring pad to clean the paintbrushes
  • 1 x paint shirt or art smock per student
This project has been designed to suit normal classroom conditions and illustrates how the classroom can be adapted to create working space required.

Paint notes

Paint spilt on garments will come off when washed by hand. Rinse the garment in cold running water and rub the area where the paint has dried. Soak for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight in a laundry tub or a bucket, add 2 table spoons of laundry detergent and enough water to cover the garment. After soaking, rub off the remaining paint in the sudsy water and hey presto... a clean shirt!

There are many ways to represent the landscape in art. The ‘landscape’ as a subject, has been an important catalyst for many artists throughout history. Artists have replicated landscapes and panoramas in many different styles from photo realistic to abstract and every artistic interpretation in between.

This project is inspired by the urban landscape, based on the shapes and lines found in city maps. It provides the student with the opportunity to express ideas about their cities or towns, exploring the different shapes created by the division of the land into suburbs, estates and small blocks. The divisions of straight and winding lines created by the streets, the rail lines, the undulating lines of rivers and streams that cross and weave their way through some cities and the irregular shapes of parks set in amongst it all.

Working with colours, shapes, lines and textures, students are encouraged to interpret these maps and to express their feelings with and open ended approach using their imagination and originality expressed in their work.


This project provides students with the opportunity to reflect on and discuss the history of cities and towns and the way they have developed and changed. It also presents a creative approach to painting the landscape from a different perspective: that of a ‘bird’s eye view’.

Visual References

Pictures of the natural landscape and pictures of cities, old city street directory maps and tourist guide maps. Landscape paintings by Australian Indigenous Artists.

If teaching this tutorial in Australia, discuss and show pictures of the way Indigenous artists have represented the landscape in their paintings. Point out things like plants, seed pods, watering holes and other natural formations of the land, having applied bright colours and patterns—and point out the ‘bird’s eye view’ they use.

Room set-up and Preparation

Arrange the desks in groups of 4 or 6 and cover them with sheets of newspaper secured with masking tape (1) so the students can work in groups and reach for the art materials easily. (2)

Prepare all the art materials in advance—make the view finders, dispense paint, and source the paper, paint brushes, the old maps and the rest of the equipment needed for this painting experience.

Before presenting this project to the class, teachers should photocopy the maps at A4 size, to have enough for each of the students participating in the activity. View finders should be made at this stage. If working with older students, demonstrate how to make a view finder so they can then create their own. A good size view finder for this project would be: the window size of a post card with a 4cm border all around.


First Session

Present the idea and show visual references, initiate a group dialogue based on the idea of the land and its natural formations and then compare this with the urban landscape. Discuss the idea of how the landscape has changed as man has divided the land into cities, suburbs, blocks streets and road ways.

The next thing to do before starting to draw and paint, will be to allocate the students with the photocopies, A3 paper and the view finders so that they can then place the view finders over the maps and select an interesting area they would like to draw. (3)


Once the students have selected their prefered area on the map, with their view finders, they can then start drawing using the charcoal sticks. (4)

Firstly, look at the right edge of the view finder—drawing lines from the same edge of your paper (the right edge)—and then moving across the rest of the paper. (4)


Once the drawing of lines and shapes is done, students will start applying paint. First they will paint the big areas with the medium sized paint brush. At this stage students will start to make decisions about colour and will have the opportunity to mix as many colours as they like.

Second Session

Continue on with the painting process. Students can start filling in the detail with their small paint brush  adding patterns as they go—like repetition of short lines (crosshatching), dots and many other strokes that they can use to fill the selected areas. Printing patterns can be done by using small pieces of foam and bit of cardboard.

Third Session

A third session for this tutorial is recommended to encourage the students to talk about their paintings and to engage in what other students have done.

Related links:

1. Room set-up and Preparation
2.Dispensing paint, brushes, mixing paper (palette), cleaning rags and water.
3. View finder taped to a selected area on a map.
4. Charcoal line drawing from map reference.
An old map of Paris
A aerial view of a modern suburb