Make: Torn Paper Landscape Art

I’ve been daydreaming of mountains, forests, and epic top-of-the-summit sunsets this week, so I thought I’d share a project that can help you escape winter and head for the hills with me! If your kids can rip paper (and what kid doesn’t love a good paper ripping) you’ll be able to create some pretty cool mountain landscape art together for an afternoon of artful adventure & scenery.

The paper and DIY stamp supplies you'll need to make your own torn paper landscape art.

One thing I absolutely love about this project is the flexibility – these are so easy to make in various sizes. We used some smaller pieces of paper to make ours, but younger kids might enjoy working larger or a full sheet of paper, a scrap of cardboard, or something even bigger!

For a more advanced torn paper landscape project, visit our brand new fold-out secret garden tutorial! Or use this torn paper idea to make a BIG DIY city landscape book that folds out into a backdrop for play.

For your own torn paper landscapes you’ll need:

BASIC SUPPLIES:

  • Construction paper, cardstock, or any paper scraps in a variety of colors
  • A glue stick
  • A simple triangle stamp and stamp pad
  • Scissors

DIY STAMP SUPPLIES:

  • Cardboard
  • A foam sheet (cardboard will work if you don’t have this)
  • Craft glue
  • An X-Acto knife

NOTE: I wanted to make some smaller landscapes (and save a little paper) so I cut a piece of paper up into quarters and used those as my base sheets to build my landscapes on. You can use any size you like though, and for smaller kids, I tend to think the bigger the better.

Torn Paper Landscape Art Instructions:

  1. Tear up a few sheets of colored scrap paper

    Rip that paper UP! Try to rip it at some different angles to create “hill” or “slope” shapes. The messy ripped edges are what really give this project a cool look.
    Tear sheets of colorful paper or cardstock into large pieces.

  2. Glue down landscape layers from the torn pieces

    Pick 3 or 4 (or more) colors you like together and start layering them on top of each other. Torn paper works really well for making mountains, but you don’t have to stick with what I did! When you start moving shapes and colors around, you might start to see other places too…beaches, fields, forests…let your imagination take you wherever it wants to go! Once you find a landscape you like, glue your layers down with a glue stick, working your way from the back to front (background to foreground).
    Create a landscape composition by layering your torn paper pieces and glue down.

  3. Trim excess paper from the edges

    Flip your project over and trim off the excess, following the sides of your base sheet. Pro tip: save the leftover scraps created from this project for some quick scrap paper collages or a simple color exploration grid for kids!
    Trim the excess paper edges off with scissors.

  4. Create mountains with a simple DIY stamp

    Now you have a beautiful landscape – but to add a little extra beauty to the scene, we wanted some trees. Use your triangle stamp to add your own groups of trees! Think about where you’d like to see them in the mountains. If you have two sizes of triangle stamps, you can use a larger one in the foreground and a smaller one in the background to create depth – or maybe your trees aren’t even triangles – you can make them any shape you like! You can stamp in different colors or one color. Or add a forest of trees or only a few special trees here and there.
    Add small landscape details with DIY stamps. We made a triangle stamp from cardboard to add little trees and forests to our torn paper landscape.

Up for making your own stamps? It’s incredibly easy!! Simply cut the desired stamp shapes out of a thick foam sheet or piece of cardboard. Glue it to a larger square piece of cardboard (you can also use a wooden block) with craft glue, let dry, and you’re good to go!

Once finished, a few of these hanging together look fantastic as a collection or as part of a gallery wall. We actually chose to send our scenic beauties on to friends and family members. After writing our messages on the back, we popped them into envelopes and sent off our surprises. Nothing is more delightful than receiving a frame-worthy piece of mini handmade art in the snail mail!

This quick little art project is a fun way for kids to experiment with making landscapes from torn paper and simple stamps! | from barley & birch

Find fresh landscape art inspiration…

Landscapes are a timeless art theme, and there’s no shortage of artists to gather inspiration from, but here are a handful of my very tip-top favorites you MUST check out.

  • Etel Adnan – at the very top of the list (for me) are Etel Adnan’s paintings. Wait until you see her color palettes – fresh and energetic, but still so faithful to their natural inspiration…!
  • Ilse d’Hollander – If bold blocks of color are your style, you’re going to love d’Hollander’s landscapes.
  • Fans of collage, here are three artist’s who’ve created landscapes you’ll love. Start with Peter Arthur Hutchinson‘s work – a master study in collaging photography to build detailed, fanciful nature landscapes. See how artist Jenny Odell combined cut-out satellite imagery to create images of our shared modern landscapes. And for a truly unique technique, visit Hearne Pardee’s amazing works – it’s no surprise to me that he lists Paul Klee as one of his own inspirations.
  • Nigel Peake’s book ‘In the Wilds’ has earned a permanent spot on my nightstand. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve poured over the pages, amazed at how he can translate the complex rural landscapes I’ve grown up in through line and color.
  • If you recoginize the name “Kandinsky” from perusing for elementary art project ideas, you’re probably familiar with his concentric circles, but Vasilly Kandinsky’s landscape paintings have always been the ones I persoanlly prefer. I mean, just LOOK at the brushwork and color-use genius expressed in this winter landscape!
  • I could lose myself in this online collection of Ampilatwatja Paintings for hours (I find Jeannie Beasley Pula’s work especially eye-catching – do you have a favorite…?).
  • Interested in being transported? Take a gander at Harold Ancart’s Seascapes – bold and brooding, but SO calming to me…just like a trip to the seaside.
  • If you’re having trouble beginning this project, just take a few minutes to observe the scenery right outside of your window. Many artists in this list have used a favorite view from home to inspire their work, and for an amazing example check out artist Andreas Eriksson who has mastered making his surroundings in MANY different mediums.
This quick little art project is a fun way for kids to experiment with making landscapes from torn paper and simple stamps! | from barley & birch

I’d love to see the landscapes you make! For more creative but simple paper landscape ideas try our plains-inspired coffee ground bison art, or Memphis-style paper sculptures (conceptual, futuristic landscapes for the win!) For a completely different kind of landscape, break out the playdough and go on a nature walk to find everything you’ll need to make your own fairy forests.SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

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Amanda E.
With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.

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