A river, with bright green banks, and several geese near/in it. Edited into the image is a white rectangle, that frames an 'image within the image' of a specific bit of the river and bank, plus waterfowl.

ReFRAME Workshop

Discover your local landscape’s colour palette in this free workshop, created for adults in the Darent Valley area.

1. Welcome to the ReFRAME Workshop

This workshop is an opportunity for you to explore and understand your local landscape. Through videos, text, reflection and practical activities, you will be investigating how colours in the landscape might change and why, and what this can tell us about our environment. You will be going out into nature, framing and focusing in on your surroundings, and experimenting with how to represent your landscape artistically, by identifying the colours within it, and making and decorating your own cardboard frame to reframe the landscape. 

 

By looking at the colours in our landscape, we can investigate what makes a healthy landscape, and discover how past and present environmental practices have shaped our landscape. Using this technique of anticipatory histories, we can determine how the landscape might change in the future and anticipate what environmental practices may be needed to support healthy habitats in our landscapes.

2. Workshop Structure

By looking at the colours in our landscape, we can investigate what makes a healthy landscape, and discover how past and present environmental practices have shaped our landscape. Using this technique of anticipatory histories, we can determine how the landscape might change in the future and anticipate what environmental practices may be needed to support healthy habitats in our landscapes.

This workshop is divided into 6 sections. Each with videos, text, images, questions and links to reading. A guideline to timings is suggested in brackets after each title, but it is up to you how long you take to complete these.

3. Exploring Colour in the Landscape (10 mins)

Through videos, images, and reflection, we will study colour as an indicator of change and what it represents within the natural environment. 

 

4. Making your Frame (5 mins)

You will be making your own simple cardboard frame, which you will use to reFrame the landscape. Simply follow the video instructions and make sure you have your ReFrame kit at the ready. 

 

5. Framing the Landscape and Colour Palette Nature Walk  (60 mins)

Venture outside to explore your natural surroundings and look closely at environmental features with our walking podcast.

 

6. Mixing Paint (15mins)

Learn how to mix different coloured paints to create your own colour palette which matches your local landscape.

 

7. Decorating your Frame (50 mins)

Using the resources and techniques gathered so far, you will decorate your frame with paints to reflect your local landscape and explore your creativity.

 

8. Reflection (15 mins)

In this final step, you will reflect on how colours represent change within your local landscape, and understand key reasons why change occurs. 

Large, green trees, in front of some fields and a cloudy sky.

 

 

Sheets of paper covered with various coloured rectangles, arranged so that the image is of a lines of coloured rectangles arranged in rainbow order (whites, greys, blacks, blues, indigos, greens, yellows, oranges, reds, browns).

 

 

A person wearing a baseball cap painting 'camouflage' patterns on to a white cardboard frame.

You Will Need

We will supply you with a ReFRAME activity pack containing:

  • Cardboard Frame cut outs
  • ReFRAME Guide Sheet

You will need to supply:

  • A camera or smartphone
  • Headphones
  • Notebook
  • Pen/pencil
  • Paintbrushes: one or two paintbrushes with a wide brush head
  • Paints: black, white, red, yellow and blue.  

If you don’t have any paints or brushes at home, you can get a simple set of acrylic paints from your local art shop or online. Like these ones here: Acrylic Colour Paint Set of 12

And this set of paintbrushes will give you a variety of sizes: Brilliant Brushes Watercolour Painting

Alternatively, why not ask a neighbour or friend if you can borrow some paint and brushes! 

A hand holds a thick paintbrush up to the camera. Behind it are more brushes and a number of paint colours on a pallet.

3. Exploring Colour In The Landscape

Colour in the landscape can tell us a lot about our environment and can be a strong indicator of change.

Q. What colours do you associate with landscapes and nature?

Q. What colours would you expect to see when you go out for a walk in nature today?

Colour in the landscape can be affected by a number of factors:

Organic Content 

The composition of plants, rocks and water will give each their unique colour. For example, the amount of chlorophyll in a plant will affect the shade of green, and iron content in the soil can give a riverbed a reddish tint. 

Do you notice how each plant or tree has a different shade of green?

 

Temporal Changes

Time of day, the season, and the weather can cause temporary changes in colour which can be rapid or gradual. For example, the changing light as the sun sets can have a dramatic effect on the landscape. As can seasonal spring carpets of bluebells, or white snow covered fields.

Can you see how the sunlight is affecting the colour of the grass?

 

Light and reflections in water

Water can change colour with depth, water content, eyeline, and the effect of light and wind on the surface. We may see reflections in water of blue skies, dark trees, or sunny glitter paths. All of these can be disturbed and distorted by currents or wind. Up close, we see less reflection and are able to see the actual colour of the water based on what is in or beneath it. 

How do you think the colour of the water would change on a windy day?

 

Land Use 

Built environments and the modern farming practices of monoculture can have a dramatic impact on colour in the landscape, often resulting in less diversity of colour, indicating limited potential for seasonal change and reduced biodiversity.

What effects have humans had on this landscape’s colours?

 

Pollution

The use of pesticides and fertilisers can cause eutrophication resulting in green algae blooms or dark murky water which is unsupportive to life. Air pollution can cause acid rain which depletes nutrients in the soil and trees, changing green foliage to brown.

Can you tell if this landscape is healthy by the colours seen?

 

Climate change

The recent rise in global temperatures is causing physical changes in our Earth’s systems. As ice melts and water temperatures increase, currents shift and sea levels rise causing flooding, severe storms, drought and extreme weather events which are changing the shape of our landscapes.

How do you think Climate change is affecting your local landscape?

A field of bright green grass with numerous trees dotted around and a bright blue sky in the background.

 

 

A grassy plant in a field with the sunset in the background.

 

 

A lake takes up the lower half of the frame and reflects the other half of the image: the cloudy sky, and far away small forests.

 

 

Motorways, one on a bridge, crossing over the other. Around them are forests.

 

 

A river, with the banks visible at the very edge of the frame. In the foreground, the water is murky with algae.

Shapes and Textures

Studying shapes and textures in the landscape can also provide clues as to whether an environment is healthy or unhealthy.

A river, both banks, several bare trees.

 

Look at these pictures of two rivers. Can you tell which one is healthier? 

 

A river occupies most of the frame, reflecting trees in its surface. On the left bank are some bushes, on the right, constructed wooden platforms, most covered in plants in large pots.

Q. How do the colours and shapes vary with each?

When looking for clues of a healthy river, it is not necessarily neat tidy channels and uniform banks that indicate a thriving ecosystem. Natural riverbanks curve and bend with the land, and allow trees and other natural detritus to fall and collect on the banks and riverbed. This enriches the river’s ecosystems and allows the river to bend and shift it’s course with changing landscapes. The diversity of colour, shapes and textures within a river can therefore indicate a healthy and diverse habitat and a natural flow.

Straight riverbanks lined with concrete paths or buildings provide little shelter and substance to support ecosystems, and can restrict and constrain the river’s flow. This can lead to more severe flooding in the long run as the river is not allowed to shift with changing environmental factors such as heavy rainfall or drought. So whilst blocks of colour, straight lines, uniform shapes and tidy landscapes can look picturesque, these are often far less healthy and biodiverse. Instead they can be an indicator of managed land by humans where there has been a lack of understanding or consideration for the natural environment, and where erosion and depleted habitats are common.

Sources:

  1. Koontz, The Vibrance of Natural Colour’ caltech letters.org, 2019
  2. Bronmark  and L. Hansson, The Biology of Lakes and Ponds 2005
  3. Tyler, Uncommon Ground, 2015
  4. Bartholomew, Hidden Nature 2005
  5. Agro Forestry
  6. DeSiley, Anticipatory History, 2011
  7. Gooley, How to Read Water, 2017
  8. DVLPS: Samuel Palmer
  9. Landscape of the Ancients: Samuel Palmer early visions
  10. Climate change bringing earlier springs may trigger drier summers 
  11. UK storms: before and after

For more details on what makes a healthy river, you can take part in our follow up workshop, What The River Says and Sings which will be available to access online soon!

4. Making Your Frame

Step 1:

Decide which side you want showing on your frame and lay it out flat with that facing side down. Will you choose the white side or the brown cardboard side?

 

Step 2:

Locate the slots and pop out the card.

Have you done all 6? (A4 Frame) or 8? (A3 Frame)

 

Step 3:

Fold the short sides of the frame by wrapping them all the way around the main frame until the tab lines up with the slot. Push the tab into the slot firmly to secure that side of the frame. Are you short sides securely fixed?

 

Step 4:

Each corner has a little flap which needs to be folded inwards, push these in firmly. Now fold the longer sides by wrapping them around the frame until the tabs line up with their slots. Push them through. Are all the tabs firmly pushed in?

 

You should now have your 3D frame! Congratulations!

 

 

 

 

Illustrated guide to folding the frames.

5. Frame The Landscape and Colour Palette Walk

Nature Walk

You will need: 

  • Your cardboard frame
  • Phone or digital camera
  • Your ReFrame guide sheet with Werner’s colour chart
  • Headphones to listen to our podcast
  • Notebook and pen/pencil
  • Suitable shoes/warm clothing

Take a walk out into your local river landscape, absorbing all of the sights, smells and sounds around you. 

As you walk, experiment with holding your frame up and framing different parts of the landscape with your cardboard frame. Take pictures as you go!

  • Zoom in and out with your Frame
  • Find and Frame interesting textures, colours, and shapes like patterns on a leaf or bark, clouds, reflections or eddies in the water.
  • Find an area where nature meets built environment. How do the colours change?
  • Can you find any natural brilliance or shimmer?

Using your Frame, find your favourite area of the landscape that you would like to focus on and “ReFRAME”

Take a picture of your chosen area. If you do not have a camera or smartphone, you can describe or sketch your framed area.

Finding your Landscape’s Colour Palette 

Included in your guide sheet is Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours. This is a colour palette reference system developed in the 1800s based on colours found in the natural world.

Can you identify and match 5 colours in your landscape against Werner’s Chart?

What are the names of these colours?

 

You can also use a modern way of identifying your landscape’s colour palette using the website Colormind. 

Visit the website: Colormind

Click on the camera icon and upload a photo of your chosen landscape.

The website will then generate a colour palette based on the colours in your picture. If you like, you can click “Generate” again to produce a different set of colours.

Now match these colours to Werner’s Colour Palette and write down the names.

Now you have identified your colour palette, make a few notes about your site, including:

  • Date
  • Time
  • Weather
  • Direction you are facing
  • Where the light is coming from

Once you have collected everything you need, make your way back to base, where you will start decorating your frame!

 

 

Screenshot from a mobile phone of a page called 'colormind.io'. At the bottom of the page is a photo of a river, field and sky. At the top are five rectangles of colour (two blues, two greens and a black) arranged in a line. Two buttons read 'image upload' and 'generate'. The main body of text says 'Colormind can extract colour palettes from images. Instead of finding the most representative colors, it aims to find good colors that work together in a color palette. The algorithm works in a semi-random way, so click generate again to see different results. There's a writeup on how this works on the blog.'.

6. Mixing Paint

Now you have identified your colours, it is time to recreate them by mixing paint to match the colours from your landscape colour palette.

If you have not had much experience of mixing paint before, start by having a little bit of practice. 

By mixing various combinations of red, yellow and blue you can make any colour. Adding small amounts of black or white are easy ways to then darken or lighten a colour.

Red + Yellow = Orange

Yellow + Blue = Green

Blue + Red = Purple

You can make brown by mixing red and yellow with a tint of blue or black.

Try making a chestnut brown by mixing red, brown and yellow? This will give you a darker shade of brown. For lighter shades use complementary colours. For example, orange and blue will create a brown that’s tinged with a hint of green, and purple and yellow will create a brighter brown colour. 

This video gives a good explanation of and introduction to mixing paints

There are plenty of different options when it comes to mixing paint. When you’re mixing paints to create the colours from your colour palette, test out several combinations on a scrap of paper until you find the colour you are looking for. 

Top tips when mixing paint:

  • Red is a primary colour, which means no other colours can be combined to create it. You can combine secondary colours with red to make deeper shades of red like burgundy or lighter colours like pink. 
  • If you’re mixing acrylic paint, keep in mind that the colours will dry slightly darker than they first appear on your paper. It may be helpful to add a little white paint to your colours to lighten them ahead of drying.
  • When mixing acrylic paint make sure to dip your brush in a small amount of water before working with your paint. Acrylic paint is water-based so it needs water so it flows more easily. The amount of water you use will alter the paint’s opacity.

Now use your cardboard envelope as a base for your colour palette. Draw five or six squares on it and write the names of your colours beneath them. Then fill these squares with each colour from your colour palette. Make sure you mix enough of each colour as it may be hard to recreate.

 

A piece of paper with five colours of paint, each in a separate section - they are labelled by colour: 'bluish purple', 'pistachio green', 'celendine green', 'primrose yellow', 'blackish brown'.

7. Decorating Your Frame

You should now have your colour palette ready to start decorating your frame!

 

Depending on your time and painting ability, there are three different options you can follow to decorate your frame.

1. Paint your colour palette onto your frame in block colours

Divide your frame into sections and paint a different colour in each. These can vary in size, and can repeat as often as you wish. Think about which colours were more dominant in your landscape or which stood out the most. 

You could highlight any contrasts in colour this way by painting these colours next to each other. For example, by painting dark grey next to bright green you could show the impact of a concrete riverbank next to green reeds in the river.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Create Patterns and Textures 

Think about patterns and shapes that you saw on your walk and that you framed. For example, patterns created by leaves or ripples on the water. Experiment by painting them onto a piece of paper. Keep it simple and choose patterns that can be repeated. Once you have decided on one you like best, paint it repeatedly onto your frame using the colours from your palette. 

You can choose this method to highlight a particular environmental feature in your landscape, like reeds along the riverbank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Combining colour shifts with texture

Think about the colours in your palette and how they might change and blend from one to another. Are they gradual or sudden? Experiment with creating an ombre effect – where colour changes gradually from light to dark or vice versa, and try out different techniques such as dot patterns, interspersed lines, block patterns, or tiling. 

You could think about how colour shifted as your zoomed in and out with your frame.

A cardboard picture frame, painted with stripes of green, blue, black, brown and white. It is flat down on a wooden floor - the floor can be seen on the inside and outside of the frame.
A cardboard picture frame, painted with waves in green, black, blue and white. It is flat down on a wooden floor - the floor can be seen on the inside and outside of the frame.
A cardboard picture frame, painted with stripes of greens, blacks and whites that blend into one another. It is flat down on a wooden floor - the floor can be seen on the inside and outside of the frame.

8. Final Reflections

Congratulations! You have now finished decorating your frame, and reframing your landscape.  

Q. Based on your discoveries today, do you think your landscape is a healthy landscape? 

Q. How might the colours in your landscape change in the future and why?

Future Documentation

If you have enjoyed this workshop, here are some suggestions for how you could continue your work on reframing the landscape:

Take your frame back to your chosen area at different times of day or year or in different weather conditions

  • How do the colours change from early morning, through to late afternoon and dusk?
  • How do the colours change with each season?
  • How do the colours change in different weather conditions? 
A cardboard picture frame, painted with light green, blue, and dark purple patches of colour all the way around. It has been laid on the ground, around a bluebell plant
A cardboard picture frame, painted with abstract patterns in blue, brown, green, black and white. It's held up so that it frames some plants, bunting, a wall, and a man wearing sunglasses.

We want to hear from you!

Thank you for taking part in this ReFrame workshop with Puppets with Guts! Please take a moment to fill out the evaluation Jotform to the right so that we can continue to provide more workshop resources like this for free.

More importantly, we would love to see your creations! Please send us a picture via email socials@puppetswithguts.com and share on social media @puppetswithguts #AnimatedLandscapes #PuppetsWithGuts. You can also take part in our follow up workshop, What The River Says and Sings, where you will learn more about rivers, and create an artistic word map, poem or song about the river!

Feeling inspired? More things to do on Animated Landscapes...