Level II-Art Lesson 14: The Mermaid From Denmark
Learn to use color and details to make one element of a picture stand out from the rest
The lesson is suitable for students in grade 3 through adult.
Art Lesson Description:
People around the globe, from ancient times to the present, have been telling stories about mermaids—
- Columbus reported seeing them on his voyages.
- Welsh people tell about mermaids who cause trouble.
- The Chinese say that when mermaids cry, their tears turn to pearls.
However, the most famous mermaid story is probably the one told by Hans Christian Andersen, “The Little Mermaid.” The fame of that story inspired a statue in the Copenhagen harbor, and even a special Danish coin. Our lesson on mermaids is based on the Danish coin. It’s simple design is easy to draw, and the fact that the mermaid is facing away from us removes any worry about what she might be wearing!
Students will draw the mermaid and create a simple background (the coin includes some helpful suggestions for what to put in the background). After that, students will:
- Outline the mermaid with black glue (a simple recipe is included!)
- Learn to use color and details to make the mermaid the focus of the picture, and
- Use what they have learned to paint the mermaid with oil pastels and watercolors.
This lesson includes both POWERPOINT and VIDEO versions of the lesson plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of the mermaid.
Learn Watercolor Techniques for Beginners HERE.
List of Supplies for Each Student:
- 1 copy of the warm-up (this comes with the lesson)
- 11" x 15" watercolor paper
- 1 fine tipped permanent black marker
- #2 pencil or 2H pencil
- Oil pastels
- 1 set of watercolors
- Set of brushes
- Black acrylic paint
- 1.25 fl. oz. bottle of white glue
- Masking tape
- Drawing board: (Make your own by cutting an 18" x 24" piece of 1/4" masonite)
- Glitter glaze (optional)
- Gold paint pen (optional)
Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:
- Read the story of Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid” online or listen to it here.
- Read the book, The Mermaid and the Shoe, by K. G. Campbell.
- Read the book, The Secret History of Mermaids, by Ari Berk.
- Read poetry about mermaids online.
- Read a Polish mermaid story, Legends of Poland: The Warsaw Mermaid, told in Polish, English, and German.
- Watch the Disney version of The Little Mermaid on Youtube.
- See a video of Denmark’s scenery on Youtube.
- Learn about how Columbus thought he saw a mermaid.
- Learn the origins of some English mermaid stories.
- Read about the life of Hans Christian Andersen.
Recipes for Danish Cuisine:
Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class:
- Drawing the picture: 20 minutes
- Making and applying black glue: 25 minutes + 1 hour to let it dry
- Using watercolors and oil pastels to color the picture: 30-45 minutes
- Total time: 75-90 minutes