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Painting Scenery with a Background and Foreground

Our Monthly Art Box Subscription includes many projects where we learn new art terms. This month we are exploring the use of Foreground and background for our Cherry Blossoms painting. In the example of the Cherry blossoms project, we will be discussing landscapes. The foreground, middle ground and background divide the landscape into different planes and are used to create a sense of depth in the painting.

The foreground of a landscape is generally closer to the bottom of the composition and appears large, because this part of the scene is closest to the viewer, just like the tree branch above. This part of the painting can have bright colors and more detail is usually seen.
The background of a scene is the furthest away. Because the items in the background are farther away they appear smaller and have less detail then things that are closer to the viewer. Take a look at the Jefferson Memorial above, it is much smaller than our tree branch because it is in the background. The colors in the background tend to be more muted. This effect is easy to achieve with watercolors, just add more water and less paint to get a more muted color.
The middle ground is the space between the background and foreground.
How to apply this idea with kids. Here’s a couple of ideas to help kids understand what these art terms mean and how to apply them. Set up some objects on a table, place some in front, middle and back. Ask kids which one they can see more detail in, why? You can apply this technique outside as well. Look at a flower close up and have your child scan the horizon, do they see the same amount of detail as the flower in front of them? Explain that the tree line, mountains or whatever is in the distance is the background. Can they see as many details far away?

Using real objects and the world around us is the best way to teach Art in early childhood education. It’s also a fun way!