Reading Time: 6 minutes

Using Chroma 2 Washable Tempera Paint, this project is inspired by 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, neighborhoods 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, become elements in the final, imaginative design. This lesson is adapted with permission from Raquel Redmond of Brava Art Press.

In this video, Raquel Redmond from Brava Art Press explores a project called “The Urban Landscape.” This project is inspired by the shapes and lines found in city maps.


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’.


  • 1 x letter size printer paper or brown/kraft paper, per student OR 1 18 x 14 inch canvas sheet per student
  • 1 photocopy reference of a city map per student
  • 1 4 x 6 inch window with a 1.5 inch wide border (post card size) to use as a view finder per student
  • Masking tape to tape the view finder to the map
  • 2 x 16.9 oz (500ml) bottles of Chroma 2 Intense & Opaque Heavy Bodied Washable Washable Tempera (or 1 x 33.8 oz (1L) bottle of Chromatemp Artists’ Tempera) in assorted bright colors
  • 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 colored 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 colors (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

Visual references

An old map of Paris.

Good references are pictures of the natural landscape and pictures of cities, old city street directory maps and tourist guide maps. Older students may research maps and use a satellite map from a navigational tool on their phones or other electronic devices.

Landscape paintings by Australian Indigenous Artists should also be referenced. 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 colors and patterns—and point out the ‘bird’s eye view’ they use.

An aerial view of a modern suburb


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)

1. Room set-up and preparation.

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.

painting tools
2. Painting tools

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) Students using electronic maps simply need to zoom into an interesting section, take a screenshot and safe for reference.

view finder on map
3. View finder taped to a selected area on a map.

Drawing: Once the students have selected their preferred 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)

line drawing
4. Charcoal line drawing from map reference.

Painting: 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 color and will have the opportunity to mix as many colors 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.

Painting showing scratched textures, printed and painted patterns.

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.

Painting by a seven year old student.
Painting by a ten year old student.

Note: This lesson can also be adapted for use with Chromacryl Students’ Acrylic or Chromacryl Acrylic Essentials.


Creating Anchor Standard 2: Organize and develop artistic ideas and work.
Presenting Anchor Standard 4: Select, analyze, and interpret artistic work for presentation.
Connecting Anchor Standard 10: Synthesize and relate knowledge and personal experiences to make art.

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abstract painted landsacpe by a child