Black & White Drama

Black & White Drama lesson plan

Explore and respond to the work of Ansel Adams, creating original black and white pencil landscape drawings of the Sierra Nevada.

  • 1.

    Ansel Adams is known for his photographs of the Sierra Nevada, where the Sierra Club was founded by John Muir. Adams's work, exquisite in both its grandeur and detail, is powerful and awe-inspiring. His photos demonstrate a strong sense of composition and clarity. Study several of his photos of the Sierras. Choose one that shows great space and contains interesting shadows.

  • 2.

    On white paper, lightly sketch the landscape that you see in Adams' photo with a black Crayola® Erasable Colored Pencil.

  • 3.

    Using a black Crayola Fine Line Marker, draw over your sketch lines. Fill in areas that are in shadow. Silhouettes are solid, and lighter areas remain white.

  • 4.

    Research the plants and animals that live in the area for authenticity. Add details that contribute to your drawing, such as figures or trees.


  • Students explore Ansel Adams's dramatic black and white mountain landscape photographs.
  • Students identify common geographic elements and animals indigenous to the Sierra Nevada.
  • Students create original art in black and white to depict light and dark in a mountainous landscape.


  • Learn more about Ansel Adams, a brilliant photographer and musician. During a trip to Yosemite National Park at age 16, he first photographed natural landscapes. Eventually, Adams became a member of f/64, a group of dedicated photographers including Imoge
  • Sketch a landscape lightly with a black Crayola Watercolor Pencil. Use a wet Crayola Watercolor Brush to spread the color to create shadows. When dry, use Crayola Colored Pencils to add details.
  • Create a collage that shows the values in an Ansel Adams photograph. Cut pages from a recycled magazine or newspaper, in varying shades of gray, ranging in value from white to black. Tear into small pieces. Lightly sketch a landscape on white paper. Glue the bits of paper on your sketch in the appropriate places. When dry, use a black Crayola Marker to fill in details.