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Imaginary Landscapes


Artists often use nature to express their thoughts and feelings. They use natural forms like mountains, valleys, water, fields, forests, and coasts to create landscapes. 

Grade Level




  • Teaching Tools

Materials and Tools

  • Watercolor paint
  • Markers
  • Cup of water
  • Paper



Look closely at this painting by Shara Hughes. Hughes creates imaginary landscapes that can be a window into another world.

Shara Hughes, In The Clear, 2016. Oil and dye on canvas, 68 × 60 in. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
  • What do you see that reminds you of a real place? What looks imaginary?  
  • How would you describe the mood of the painting?
  • Is this a place you would want to visit? Why or why not?


Think about an imaginary landscape that you would like to create.  

  • What will you include? (e.g. mountains, lakes, trees.)
  • What shapes, colors, and textures will your landscape have?  
  • How might it feel to be in this landscape? 


Use your watercolors to create your imaginary landscape.

Experiment with wet paint on dry paper, then wet on wet.

Create different shapes and lines by using different ways to hold your brush and see what happens when you apply different types of pressure.

You can mix colors on the paper, or you can use the inside of the paint set cover as a palette. Try layering new colors over ones that have dried.

You can use your marker and then paint over the shapes and lines you create. What could they represent in your landscape?

Give your artwork a title. It could describe the landscape you
have created or what it would feel like to be there.


Shara Hughes, In The Clear, 2016. Oil and dye on canvas, 68 × 60 in. (172.7 × 152.4 cm). Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.


Imaginary Landscapes

Studio NYC Team
Julie Applebaum, Senior Director
Andrea Burgay, Associate Director
Hasna Muhammad, Ed.D., Chair, Board of Directors, Studio in a School Association
Alison Scott-Williams, President, Studio in a School NYC

These educational materials were created through a partnership with Studio in a School NYC and The Hepworth-Wakefield and made possible by the generosity of The Burberry Foundation. 

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