Susan Birth is a local artist based in Worcester who endorses the therapeutic value of creating art. Studies have shown that both creating and observing art can reduce cortisol, the ‘stress hormone’, and help promote well-being. Focusing on a creative activity in particular is an enjoyable way of distracting the mind from stressful, anxious thoughts – a kind of ‘art therapy’.
Here are three ideas! Would you like to create a painting with silver birch trees? A harbour scene? A bluebell wood? Susan has provided clear step by step instructions below. If you prefer to follow the process on video then try the bluebell wood. The video is at the bottom of this page.
You will need:
- Thick white card
- A pencil
- Wax crayons, coloured pencils OR paint and brushes
- A thin sheet of white A4 paper
Silver Birch Trees
This art activity can be done using crayons/coloured pencils, paint and any colours. It’s up to you!
You can follow the instructions using paints if you like, but you will still need a black wax crayon for the rubbing. The examples above are done with crayons.
You can use any colours as long as you follow the instructions about light and dark. The example here is with wax crayons, but feel free to use any medium.
STEP 1 – Use thick white paper or card. On a square (about 25 x 25 cm) use a pencil to draw the wavy skyline near the top of your paper. Vary the height of the hills to make it interesting. Then, draw another wavy line under it, and then another one underneath that. Next, draw a wavy line across the centre of your square, and then another wavy line a couple of centimetres under it.
STEP 2 – Use a light yellow crayon to gently colour in everything under the skyline. Do it gently so that you leave some white specks and can still see the pencil lines. If painting, try to leave a few white specks.
STEP 3 – Use a light orange crayon/paint to gently colour this bit.
STEP 4 – Use a deeper orange and red mixed together for this section.
STEP 5 – Then a very dark red/orange mixed with black for this small section.
STEP 6 – Use your fingers to spread some of the dark colour upwards. (Wash hands after)
STEP 7 – Use something scratchy to scrape vertical wavy lines on these two sections. They will look like tree trunks in the distance.
STEP 8 – Colour the bottom section using orange and red, not too dark.
STEP 9 – Use a thin sheet of white paper and a black wax crayon to do a rubbing against a rough surface (paving stone, tree trunk …) until you get this effect. It helps to use the side of the wax crayon.
STEP 10 – Cut out about 7 to 10 tall silver birch tree trunks from this and stick them on, spreading them out fairly evenly across the paper. Make sure they are stuck properly by pressing over gently with kitchen roll. You can add a few small branches if you like. Some trees can be bending over slightly if you like. They don’t have to be perfectly straight. The tops must ‘grow out of’ the picture. The bottoms don’t matter because you will be covering them in the next step.
LAST STEP – Look through a magazine to find photos of large plants, grasses or flowers, etc. to stick onto the bottom of your picture. Try to choose colours that fit in with the rest of your picture. If you prefer you can paint grasses, bushes, flowers straight onto the paper with thick paint. Colour a little bit of shadow at the base of the trees.
Easy-to-follow steps for creating an attractive harbour scene. Feel free to use colours that appeal to you and add any personal touches.
You will need:
- Stiff white card or thick white paper for the base of your picture. Draw a square on it about 25 x 25 cm or 30 x 30 cm
- Paints and brushes ideally, or crayons, coloured pencils, pastels
- Wax crayons
- Paste or a glue stick
- A white wax crayon, or white candle
- Felt pens
- Various types of paper, e.g. cut out from magazines, wallpaper, brown paper
Use whatever colours you like. They don’t have to be the same as the ones in the pics.
STEP 1 – a) Choose a fairly light colour and paint it all over your square. It could be light red, pink, light orange, light yellow or light blue. b) Leave it to dry or use a hair dryer.
STEP 2 – a) When the base colour is dry, rub a very pale coloured wax crayon or a white candle here and there in the sky area. b) Then do the same in the water area.
STEP 3 – a) FOR THE SKY: Make a paint and water mix using a colour darker than the base colour of the sky, and paint it quickly over the sky part. b) FOR THE WATER: Make a paint and water mix in blue and paint it quickly over the water part. c) Leave to dry or use a hair dryer gently.
STEP 4 – a) Make sure you get the bottom line of the houses in the right place and roughly parallel with the top and bottom of the paper (mine isn’t). The bottom of this row of house walls needs to be in a straight line across the paper, so draw this straight line first with a pencil and a ruler. The line should be just below halfway down the square. b) Then use some very thick white paint to make a row of house walls standing on this straight line – without their rooves – across the middle of the paper. You can use a knife to scrape the paint on, or use a paintbrush. Make the houses different sizes – some short, some tall, some wide, some thin. c) Leave to dry or use a hair dryer.
STEP 5 – a) Paint or crayon all the houses each a different colour, some light coloured and some brighter. Choose lots of bright colours. b) Then cut out some squares or rectangles for the roof shapes and stick them on top. The inside of envelopes is good for this. Or just some paper from a magazine. Choose colours that are different from the sky so that they stand out. c) If you want to you can use a wax crayon or paint in a colour darker than your sky to make some blurry building shapes in the background just above the rooftops. d) Ignore the brown wall. We will do it in the next step.
STEP 6 – a) CHIMNEYS: Use the thick white paint to give your houses some chimneys b) HARBOUR WALL: Tear a strip of dark coloured brown or grey paper or wallpaper to make the harbour wall and stick it on. The bottom should be straight-ish and the top a bit wavy or ragged. (If you can’t find brown, use any colour then paint it grey or brown). c) Paint or draw some darker bits on the wall here and there to look a bit like stones.
STEP 7 – Use a dark coloured felt pen to give your houses some windows.
Please take a photo of your finished picture and email it to both email@example.com and Susan Birth at firstname.lastname@example.org