Grandma Bird / After Reading / /

Stormy Seascapes

Learning art skills and techniques

Lesson length: 1 session

Lesson from Grandma Bird series

Text potential

  • Wider learning opportunities: Art: techniques
  • Vocabulary: Subject vocabulary: art


This process introduces children to the techniques illustrators use to create particular effects.


Have available:

  • blue, black, and white paint.
  • mixing palettes, brushes, and water for colour mixing.
  • download the ‘Stormy Seas’ slideshow


Start by encouraging close looking at the illustrations

Look closely:

  • How does Benji Davies create the storm? Challenge the children to see if they can see how the brush strokes are made. (They are created digitally but mimic painting with a brush and paint).
  • How can you tell that it is raining? Notice how the lines of rain are very different from the shapes created by the swirling waves.
  • Can you see the different colours that Benji Davies has used?

Colour mixing technique

Starting with the blue paint (pure colour), show the children how to make progressively lighter tints by adding white. Make 2 or 3 different tints of blue

Now start with the pure colour blue and add black paint to make progressively darker shades. Make 2 or 3 different shades of blue.

Allow time for children to mix their tints and shades of blue by adding white or black to pure colour.

Now show how they can use different brush strokes and the tints and shades of blue to create a picture of a stormy sea. Try different brush strokes to create swirling water and driving rain.

Introduce subject vocabulary, as appropriate, while you explain the process of colour mixing. Once introduced, use the vocabulary regularly when talking about colour and colour mixing.


Final reflection

Look at and compare how different artists have created stormy seascapes. For example:

  • Monet Seascape Storm
  • Hokusai The Wave
  • Turner Stormy Sea with Blazing Wreck

Key vocabulary

mixing, tint, shade, dark, darker, light, lighter


The Great Wave

Published by Prestel. Authored by Veronique Massenot. Illustrated by Bruno Pilorget.

On a stormy winter’s day, a baby boy, Naoki, is swept into a fisherman’s boat by a great wave. Years pass, but still Naoki does not grow. Must he return to the ocean in order to become a young man? The answer arrives in the form of a mythic fish. Japanese artist Hokusai is one of the world’s most celebrated printmakers. His famous woodcut, The Great Wave, epitomizes the artist’s characteristic techniques and themes. A stunning reproduction of the woodcut itself is featured in the book, supplemented by information about the artist and his work. At once modern and classic, The Great Wave introduces young readers to a beloved artist and his timeless portrayals of nature and transformation.

Painting Stormy Seas

stormy seas

Use this slideshow to look closely at the different techniques that painters have used for painting stormy seas. What colours did they use? Can you see how they used brush strokes?


Nikki Gamble

Nikki Gamble
Director, Just Imagine
Nikki has worked extensively in schools across the UK and internationally. She is the author of Exploring Children’s Literature (4th edit) (2019) and co-author of Guiding Readers (2016) which was awarded the UKLA Academic Book of the Year Award 2017. Nikki is KS2 reading advisor and series consultant for Oxford University Press and content creator for the Oxford School Improvement and Oxford Owl websites. Nikki is Associate Consultant at the University of London, Institute of Education and Honorary Fellow at the University of Winchester

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Sam Keeley

Formerly a teacher and local authority advisory teacher, Sam now works with Just Imagine as an English consultant and manager of the year 6 Reading Gladiators programme.

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