Art Classes: Level IV

Level IV-Art Lesson 8: The Stained Glass Nativity Window

Learn to choose between an analogous and a balanced  palette, and draw a human figure

The lesson is suitable for students in grade 5 through adult.


Art Lesson Description:

Stained glass may be a medium that’s too expensive for amateur artists, but that needn’t stop one from making an imitation of stained glass on paper! This lesson offers two ways to do this.

In the MARKER version,

  • We begin with a large piece of vellum (11” x 14”), the translucent paper that some people call tracing paper.
  • We color it with washable makers—cheap in cost, and surprisingly versatile on the vellum!
  • Once the picture is colored, we put in the “lead” lines with dimensional paint.

In the watercolor version,

  • We draw the picture on watercolor paper.
  • We redraw the lines with a mixture of glue and black paint.
  • Then we learn to use several layers of paint to create complex coloring for the "window."

Either way, you get a stained glass effect. WE like the watercolor version better, since the colors are much more complex. But don't worry--you can try both versions for the price of one!

The lesson offers the following challenges:

  • Choosing either a balanced palette to create harmony, or an analogous palette to create a mood (given the limited range of colors in a marker set, the balanced palette is easier to work with).
  • Exploring the possibilities offered by using washable markers on vellum, or using layers of watercolori on watercolor paper.
  • Drawing a simplified human figure.
  • Learning about narrative art.

This lesson includes both 2 POWERPOINT and 1 VIDEO version of the lesson plus 2 downloadable printouts: a warmup and a drawing of the window.


Learn Watercolor Techniques for Beginners by clicking here.

List of Supplies for Each Student

Marker Version

  • 1 sheet of 11 x 17 white paper (or 2 sheets of 8.5” x 11” paper taped together on the back side)
  • 1 HB or #2 pencil
  • 1 fine tipped black magic marker
  • 1 sheet of 11” x 17” or 11” x 14” vellum, or two 8.5" x 11" sheets of vellum taped together on the back side.
  • 1 set of washable colored markers (a set of 20 colors is best)
  • Masking tape to hold layers of paper together.
  • 1 copy of the Stained Glass Warm-up
  • Dimensional black acrylic paint, such as Scribbles 3D Fabric Paint, or Americana Acrylic Dimensional Writer by DecoArt. (The DecoArt paint is easier to squeeze)


List of Supplies for Each Student

Watercolor Version

  • 1 copy of the Stained Glass Warm-up
  • 1 fine tipped black magic marker
  • 1 sheet of 11” x 15” watercolor paper
  • 1 HB or #2 pencil
  • 1 set of watercolor paints
  • Masking tape
  • Black liquid acrylic paint
  • 1.25 fl. oz. bottle of white school glue
  • A painting board (a 12” x 16” or larger piece of masonite)

Suggestions for Cross-Curricular Connections:


Music: Learn a Medieval Christmas carol (and a little Latin) at

Literature: Stained Glass Summer by Mindy Hardwick

Math: Use algebraic functions to create a stained glass window pattern. Find instructions at one of these sites:

Science: Learn the characteristics of the elements that are used to color glass.

Approximate Time to Complete the Art Class

  • Warm-up: 15 minutes
  • Drawing the window: 30 minutes
  • Coloring the: 45-60 minutes
  • Waiting time to let bubbles rise in the dimensional paint bottle: 4 hours
  • Applying the dimensional paint for the lead effect: 30 minutes


Original Image
Original Image
Finished Lesson: Watercolors
Finished Lesson: Watercolors
Finished Lesson: Markers
Finished Lesson: Markers

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