3rd Grade Birch Trees with Painted Colorful Abstract Backgrounds

Got a plastic fork handy? Good. Let’s make some art!

The secret to this project being individualized is that the birch trees aren’t the star of the project, sorry birch trees. The real star of this project is the colorful abstract painted background.

It’s a challenge for the students to paint a 12″ x 18″ abstract painting, but we talk about variety of types of lines, colors, and shapes. The students always rise to the challenge so beautifully! They make my art teacher heart proud.

We start with looking at real birch trees and their bark patterns and colors online. We watch video clips of birch trees in the forest. Some years, I invite the artists to lie down on the floor and listen to the wind blowing through the birch trees as they imagine how it would feel if they were really there.

We then look at abstract art and compare and contrast abstract art and representational art. We do that every class period of this project.

We start the project with a teacher demo as I call on various students to tell me what color, type of line, and shape to start with. I paint whatever they request as their intro to how to begin an abstract painting. We discuss whether painting various things would be abstract or not. We problem solve together about how to change a part of a painting if the urge to sneak in a corner sun is too much to resist.

Then, after about 2 weeks of concentrated abstract painting, just when the interest in the project is starting to wane, I break out the hook – the forks. We demo how to make the black horizontal birch markings, stressing how the key is a wet enough black tree outline.

Next we cut the trees out and glue them on our abstract backgrounds. They look beautiful and are a confidence-builder to have a successful art project completed.

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