Black and White Tree Study

Fourth grade students practiced brush techniques last week. Not just for applying a flat layer of paint, brushes can stipple, dab and speckle. Students received a 6″ x 12″ piece of plain drawing paper, a small and medium-sized brush and a tub of black watered-down tempera paint.

First tree: Draw a medium to thick trunk and extend the branches to both sides and up the middle. Add smaller branches extending away from the trunk and tree limbs. Use small brush and stipple around each branch and limb (not the entire tree). This creates more natural foliage.

Second Tree: Low to the ground and with big, long limbs, the fig tree has a massive root system. Practice painting limbs that extend to the side instead of up to the sky. Use a bigger brush to dab blobs of paint around each tree limb. It’s okay if there are space between branches.

Third Tree: Create a tree of your own using a whimsical style of leaf making. Use the medium or small brush to make big, puffy leaves, swirling leaves or anything you want. Have fun!

Full lesson plan with handouts found in 50-Minute Art Lessons for Grades 3-6

Fourth Grade Tree Study…


  1. Patty, I like so many of your lessons, but this one is my favorite. It’s simple yet deep. Reminds me of Sumi-e. So appealing.

  2. Janie B says:

    Love this lesson. Very good idea. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Ms. L says:

    I really love this lesson!!! My kids love it too.. So much that when we come back from benchmarks we are making the trees again but with color, found objects, and lots of glue lol!!

  4. Joanne Duval says:

    This screams Haiku….think I will pair this with a writing lesson…

  5. I love the simplicity and beauty of this assignment. We will be giving this a try!

    Thank you for sharing this lesson.

    Lauren Taylor
    School at St. George Place

  6. Sarah says:

    This reminds me of the work of Charles Burchfield.
    He painted scenes of Ohio and many trees in a unique manner.
    Very nice lesson!!

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About Patty

I teach art to 400 school children in Goleta, California. My art library contains hundreds of free art lesson ideas. My shop has art lesson plans, videos and resources to help you teach art to kids. It's a whole lot easier with Deep Space Sparkle.

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