Layered Art Activity

3.6 based on 8 ratings
Updated on Aug 13, 2012

"The Cat Came Back" is a children's song about a farmer that has a cat that won't go away no matter what he does. The cat loves to cause trouble, break things and drive his owner crazy! Your child will be able to tell his own tale of the cat who came back while learning the skill of layering, giving new depth to his art skills. He'll create a scene that takes a peak through window panes to the world outside—all where the crazy cat lives. It's a fun activity creating background and foreground elements, building your child's art skills and creative development.

What You Need:

  • White watercolor paper (11” x 17”)
  • Black construction paper
  • Tempera paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Colored construction paper for the cat
  • Pencil

What You Do:

  1. Before picking up a paintbrush, discuss what a landscape is with your child. Ask him what elements he can name that show up in a landscape, like trees and mountains. Or ask him to look outside and describe what he sees in the background, faraway. You can also explain a horizon line is the line that separates land from sky.
  2. Now to get started! Using tempera paint on the water color paper have your child fill the page by painting two distinct sections in two different colors, for the sky and the ground. If it helps, you or he can draw a horizontal line across the page first. Allow this to dry completely.
  3. Ask your child to paint a village in the landscape. Homes or barns in the distance will be smaller, and ones that are closer are bigger! Allow this layer to dry completely (time in the sun can help speed this up).
  4. Help your child cut four strips of black paper. The strips should be long enough to have two go across the page horizontally and two crossing the page vertically, each about 1” thick. They'll make the window!
  5. Have him glue these in place, layered on top of the village landscape.
  6. Now, he can draw the outline of a cat on a blank piece of construction paper using a pencil. The cat will sit at the window in the foreground, so he can practice making it proportional in size.
  7. Once he's satisfied have him cut out the cat and glue it at the bottom of the window. Or, create a windowsill first by covering the bottom inch or two of the page with a blank strip of contruction paper, then glue the cat on top of that.
  8. Paint in the cat’s details such as eyes, whiskers, spots or stripes.
  9. When everything's dry his picture is ready to hang where he can keep a close eye on that sneaky cat!

Tips: If your child loves drawing he can draw in the buildings in Step 3 with crayons, colored pencil or markers. He can even use the drawings as templates to paint over!

Ellen Dean has worked as an art educator in Thailand since 2005, working with both children and adults. She has also been a professional artist working in painting, sculpture and photography since 1996.