Snowy Mountains: Wallpaper Collage (January 2013)

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This project started life as a stack of old Anaglypta wallpaper samples donated by one of my Art Club parents. Leafing through the sheets in the heavy sample books, I was struck by the huge variety of textures, from swirling patterns and wood-grain effects to rougher, stucco-like surfaces. With such a wide range of whites, from cream and buff shades to pale grey tones and bright whites, I thought they would lend themselves beautifully to snowy, winter collage projects.

Last week my younger group of three and four years olds created pictures of snowy owls with feathers made from torn pieces of wallpaper. Click here to read more about Snowy Owls: Torn Paper Collage (January 2013).

With my older students, aged between four and six, I decided to try a winter landscape project, using the textured papers to create a multi-layered mountain scene. I wanted to explore the concept of aerial perspective by using layers of paper to create the illusion of distance.

Vorarlberger Skigebiet

We started the session by looking at a few photographs of Alpine landscapes, observing how the mountains look like overlapping layers (often described as ‘receding planes’ in art-speak!), the top layer being closest to us at the front of the picture (the foreground), and the final layer being furthest away in the distance.

We also discussed how the size (scale) of objects in the landscape tell us whether they are close or far away. For example, in the photograph above, the hut and the trees in the foreground look much larger than the ones on the distant mountainside.

Finally, we looked at the difference in tone (light/dark) of each layer. Usually atmospheric effects cause distant objects in a landscape to become less clearly defined and appear paler in tone as they get further and further away from us (as demonstrated in my Foggy, Foggy Forest: Tree Silhouettes project). However, this phenomenon can look rather different in a winter landscape, due to the reflectiveness of the white snow. Since aerial perspective also has the effect of making the foreground appear brighter, a snowy foreground often appears to be lighter than the distant mountains, particularly when sunlight and shadows also come into play.

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To create this effect in their own pictures, the children started off with two rectangular sheets of wallpaper, one blue (for the sky) and another in a neutral (dark) off-white. They ripped the off-white paper from side to side, carefully tearing up and down to create a craggy mountain shape.

blog DSCF3159After pasting glue along the reverse of the torn edge, the first layer was stuck into place leaving an adequate amount of blue sky still showing.

Then each child selected two more sheets of white wallpaper, with different tones and textures, and tore them in the same way, producing two further layers (planes) to be glued on, each time leaving a space so as not to obscure the layer beneath.

Once all three layers were glued down, the children wiped away any excess glue from the front of their pictures, and got started with adding lots of details to their snowy scenes. Bic ballpoint pens (biros) worked most effectively on all of the wallpaper surfaces, even the most heavily textured.

This is where imagination took over! The kids added trees, log cabins, and ski lifts to their mountain landscapes, remembering to make objects larger in the foreground and gradually smaller on each layer into the distance.

blog DSCF3131Some children drew skiers or snowboarders doing tricks over ramps, even a snowmobile driving across the snow!

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blog DSCF3133Others created even greater depth and distance by drawing footprints in the snow that get smaller and smaller, disappearing into the distance.

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It was difficult to capture the full effect of the paper textures and layers in my photographs, but I thought the finished art works were incredibly effective. The project was a great success, both as a teaching exercise and as a really fun activity which completely absorbed the children throughout the lesson.

To view more of Art Club’s snowy mountain collages, please click through the Gallery below…

Update: I repeated this project in February 2015 – please click here to view the new blog post and another gallery of Alpine Landscapes.



  1. […] Then it was time to create a landscape setting inspired by the spectacular Austrian Alps that my students are very familiar with! The children tore strips of dark and light green paper and overlapped them in layers on a large sheet of blue paper, to create the effect of receding planes. We used the same technique earlier in the year for a landscape project, Snowy Mountains: Wallpaper Collage. […]

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