Tonal Winter Landscape with Sports Figures



As soon as I saw the book Slush Mountain (affiliate link) by Bjorn R. Lie, I couldn’t wait to break out my paints to re-create the beautiful illustrations that can be used for a winter art activity or to celebrate the winter Olympics.

The book uses a soft palette of baby blue, lichen, soft gray, ochre and loden. I’ve been a recent fan of Crayola brand acrylic paints. They have a wonderful end result (egg shell finish) yet behave much like liquid tempera paint. I say this because I have never been a fan of using acrylic paints in the art room as clean-up is difficult.

You might be wondering what the difference is. I wrote a blog post and created a video showing how tempera paint and acrylic paint differ. Check it out to see how they differ and suggestions on what product to buy.

If you have a favorite acrylic paint then use it, otherwise this project is perfect for liquid tempera paint.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A variety of soft and bright liquid tempera or acrylic paints
  • Medium paint brush- round tip
  • Small paint brush- fine tip
  • 12″ x 18″ white or light color sulphite or all-purpose drawing paper
  • Cardstock & templates
  • Black marker
  • Colored markers
  • Glue
  • Scissors

Tonal Winter Landscape: Paint a winter forest using tints and shades

To start, mix your favorite winter color palette with your paint of choice. I like to use water to create a heavy cream-like consistency with my liquid tempera paints so that it is easier to paint with.

Using an off-white colored piece of paper (all-purpose drawing paper is great), brush a layer of creamy white snow on the top third of the paper.

Below the blanket of white snow, add various layers of blue, green or variations off those colors. Remind the children to think of how they might like to decorate their wintery forests. I opted for a sports theme as detailed in the book. If the child wants to add a downhill skier, perhaps they might like a hill. If the child wishes to create a figure skater, then a flat layer of ice might be a good idea.

What you are aiming for is a multi-layered hillside or forest floor. Leave the top part of the paper plain or without paint. Allow to dry completely before painting trees.


While the background layer is drying, pull out the sports figures that have been photocopied onto cardstock. Cardstock is the heavy 11″ x 8″ copy paper that is readily found in office supply stores.

Use markers, colored pencils, or even cake tempera paint to color in the sports figures.

Carefully cut out the sports figure.


Once the background layer has dried, select a few colors of paint and draw vertical lines where you want trees to be placed. It helps to paint the trees along the top ridge first. These will be the trees that are the farthest away from the viewer and therefore are close to the top of the paper.

Next, draw longer lines for the trees in the middle of the paper. Draw the lines on top of one of the color sections. In my example, it’s the blue section.

Finally, draw longer lines beginning at the bottom of the paper and reaching the top (or very near) of the paper.

With a variety of colors, draw the branches as individual lines, clumps or decorative shapes. Refer to the book for examples.

Winter landscape- painting the trees


Glue the action figures to the dry background. Add any extra details (glitter, etc). If the students added a skier, it might be easier to draw the poles or even skis on the paper after the figure has been glued down.

For a final touch, feel free to splatter the entire piece with liquid tempera paint to mimic snow.

An alternative is to brush on glue or Mod-Podge on select areas of the background and sprinkle snow glitter over top.


To download a Figure Skater, Downhill Skier and Snow Jumper template, click the yellow box below to receive a free download from this tonal winter landscape lesson:

Click here to subscribe

Did you like this lesson? Feel free to share it using the share tabs above.

Tonal winter landscape lesson for kids

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • kgraham335@gmail.com

    It’s great !

  • Yolanda

    Great Idea for my primary artistas. In particular with the winter Olympics on. I can use Olympic sport templates to create variety. Thanks

  • Meredith

    So pleasing visually 🙂 I am going to attempt this with my new tempera cakes ! We shall see!

  • Irene Anderson

    Did the background with third and fourth grades last week.
    Next week will add the sports figure. Third letting them color.Fourth grade drawing their own.
    Love it.

  • Irene Anderson

    You can use the other end of the paint brush for snow instead of splattering.
    Dip the end into white paint and dot the snow on it. I do art on a cart and can’t make
    mess in to many rooms.

  • Vivian

    I love this project! Thank you Patty for this tutorial. It was perfect timing with the winter Olympics going on now. I had another project planned until I saw this one! We are starting on it today. Thanks again!!!

    • Patty

      So happy to hear that! It was a great lesson and I’m seeing so many fun results in our Facebook Group…you can join here and check them out! https://www.facebook.com/groups/DSSstudents/

  • Char Blakley

    I love it! I can’t wait to try this with my kindergarteners. We have had so much snow in north Idaho! Thank you so much for the tutorial to get me started and the templates. I love being a new sparkler.

  • Erin Thompson

    We loved this project! My classroom aid said, “Everyone can be an artist!” as she was hanging them up for display in our room.

  • Teresa

    Guess what my daughters (twins, 10 years old) made over the weekend – and their art sits at the front of our home?? I just wish I could take a photo and send it to you…
    They loved it and your tutorial was so simple and inspiring. You are wonderful!
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom and talents!

  • Jodi

    This is nice very nice


    Thank you.

    • Elizabeth J Garat

      Really love the lesson. I am just finishing this with my 5th grade. I have three sections. Each section used a different tonal color scheme from the book. One section used the colors Patty did, one section did a morning winter landscape in pinks and lavenders, and the third did an early evening landscape with a dark blue sky to which they added stars or snow. We did the backgrounds first. In addition to the figures Patty provided, I found tobogganers and sledders to add to the figure choices. I’m happy with the project, but I will say it took us (3) 90 minute sessions to complete. Worth it though.

  • Jaanika

    Great idea. Thank you sharing!

  • Donna Raymond

    My sixth grade class did this one and they look great! They enjoyed decorating the skater and skier. I really enjoyed watching the children get creative with the background too. Fun Winter lesson!

  • Phoebe Wagner

    This is a great way to incorporate gesture drawing into landscape art! I will be using it to teach color tints and tones as well. Thanks for this fantastic resource!

  • Delilah

    I like this project

Follow Us

In stores 8/21


The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

Unlocking this lesson will give you access to the entire bundle and use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes

The {bundle_title} is Locked

Accessing this bundle will use {points} of your available unlocks.

Are you sure?

No Yes



The {lesson_title} Lesson is Locked inside of the {bundle_title}

To unlock this lesson, close this box, then click on the “lock” icon.