Thursday, May 2, 2013


Webby here! 

One of my very favorite spots at Shelburne Museum is Pleissner Gallery, which features the paintings of Ogden Pleissner. Like me, Pleissner loved the outdoors. One of his hobbies was fly fishing, and he painted a lot of beautiful water scenes of his favorite spots to fish.

Pleissner was a lifelong artist. When he was five years old he loved the wallpaper in his stairway at home because it was covered in tiny boats. One day, when his mom wasn't looking, he drew people in all the boats with a crayon! Even though he got in trouble, it shows us just how much he loved to draw.    

Pebble Beach Golf Course, ca. 1950-1965, watercolor on paper.
©Ogden M. Pleissner
Looking at one of Pleissner's landscapes is like standing at a window where you can see way into the distance. He has divided the painting into a foreground, which is what's right in front, the middle ground a bit farther back, and the background reaching to the skyline. The artistic term for this is "composition."

I thought we could try making our own compositions with a foreground, middle ground, and background. Here's what you'll need:
  • Paper
  • A pencil
  • Crayons (colored pencils or pastels--chalk or oil--would work, too!)

Using your pencil, draw three lines to create a foreground, middle ground, and background. You don't want to draw them straight across the page; instead, make them wavy and crooked.

Next, draw something in each section. I drew a house in the background, a tree in the middle ground, and a turtle in the foreground, but you can make your composition whatever you want! I also drew a road that comes from the background into the middle ground. Hint: draw it wider as it gets closer to the foreground.

Finally, I colored in my picture!
What Ogden Pleissner-inspired landscape will you make? Email me your creation at for a chance to appear on my blog. Don't forget to sign your artwork!

Go here to learn more about our upcoming exhibition in Pleissner Gallery, and visit the Museum when we open on May 12th to see the paintings. 


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