Great Horned Owl Watercolor Art Lesson for Kids

Owl flying in front of moon

A watercolor art lesson for kids inspired by Owl Moon by Jane Yolen!

Students learn to create texture through the use of a variety of line work and painting effects on their own image of a Great Horned Owl.

Grade Level: 1st–4th grade

Time Required: 2 45-min. class periods








Faber-Castell Connector Paint Box

Faber-Castell Watercolor EcoPencils

Brushes–large, medium, small

Faber-Castell 9x12 Watercolor Paper

 Owl Moon Book

OWL MOON by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr

This 1947 Caldecott winner is a gentle, poetic story of a little girl and her father’s owling adventure one winter’s night near the New England farm where they live. The story is exquisitely complemented by the artist’s powerful and evocative watercolor wash and pen illustrations, two fun and simple methods which students can master here in this lesson plan.

Outline of owl

1. Begin by having students loosely sketch circles for eyes, then add brows, top of head, beak and “moustache.” Add body, wings and branch.

Outline of owl

2. Continue to sketch in more detail; eyes, feathers, and claws.

Owl painting

3. Show students how to experiment with mixtures of Yellow Ochre,Yellow Gelb, Indian Yellow, Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber. Mix with a small amount of water to create a light wash consistency. Paint owl. Allow white of paper to show through here and there.

Owl watercolor painting

4. Paint branch with Burnt Sienna and Raw Umber. When art is dry, create texture by lightly splattering color on body of owl with an old toothbrush dipped in brown wash. Add more texture with sketchy detail all over owl with dark brown watercolor pencil.

Watercolor owl

5. Create moon by using some sort of stencil; find a circular shape like a bowl to position over owl and trace around it. An accurate circle instead of a freehand one will look much better. Paint moon with a yellow wash, getting lighter towards the edges. Let dry.

Watercolor owl

6. Paint a night sky with a mix of a Black and Cobalt Blue wash. Create a radiating effect by starting dark at the outer edges of the paper, and gradating to a lighter wash towards edges of moon.

Download the entire lesson plan, here!

Artist Biography - Janis Doukakis


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