Paint the Sea

Length of Program

60 minutes

Program Description

“Sands create themselves as artist’s renderings

As frothy, soft tides rise to shape the shore

Sail boats sit at bay, on this carefree summer day

Then turn to catch a wind on sail once more”

- From “Mother Sea” by Charlotte Mair.

Calling all teen artists, poets, and writers! This is the perfect opportunity for teens to show their talent and create a seascape to display at the library. The “seascape” will include artwork, poetry, stories, quotes, or anything else the teens are inspired to create.


Provide large sheets of white butcher paper, Tempera paint, a drop cloth if working indoors, and paint brushes. Gather art books, poetry books, and children’s picture books with paintings of the sea to display for inspiration. Tell the teens to wear old clothes that may become covered with paint, or provide old shirts for them to wear over their clothes.  You can get butcher paper at your local grocery store or butcher. You can obtain Tempera paint online at Binders Art, if it is not available locally.

Invite a local marine biologist or aquatic life expert to come and talk to the teens about sea life.

Books to Display

  • Moby Dick by Herman Melville.
  • Oxford Dictionary of Quotations edited by Elizabeth Knowles.
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne.
  • Paint the Sea and Shoreline in Watercolors Using Special Effects by E. John Robinson.

Books to Booktalk

  • Caught By the Sea: My Life on Boats by Gary Paulsen.
  • The Cay by Theodore Taylor.
  • Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes.
  • Water: Tales of Elemental Spirits by Robin McKinley.
  • The Young Man and The Sea by Rodman Philbrick.


Serve “sea” themed snacks such as Swedish swordfish, gummy octopi, goldfish snacks, sea salt crackers, Oyster crackers, and cups of blue Jell-O™, along with drinks. If you can’t find gummy octopi locally, try an online store such as Candy Direct,, which sells gummy octopi, sharks, and dolphins and a “gummy aquarium” of assorted gummy sea creatures.


Paint a Sea Seascape / Writing a Sea Poem


  • Tempera paint
  • Butcher paper and/ or individual sheets or kraft paper
  • Pens
  • Old Magazines


This activity encourages teens to be creative by painting or writing about their vision of the sea. If weather permits, this would be a good project to do outside to avoid spilling paint in the library programming room. This can be either a group or individual activity. If done as a group, use large sheets of butcher paper and let the teens design a mural together. If teens work individually, give them individual sheets of paper.  You can make a collage of their work to display in the library.

For teens who choose to write about the sea, provide books and web sites with stories or poetry, quotes, or paintings for inspiration. Books that would be good resources for this activity are the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and books of poetry about the sea. A web site with poems about the sea and sailing is Sailing Poems… at After the program, display their creations in the teen department or throughout the library.

Surf’s Up!


  • Cardstock or poster board
  • Markers
  • Stickers
  • Scissors


Enlarge the pattern provided to fit on an 8 ½” by 11” piece of paper. Trace the surfboard pattern onto heavy cardstock or poster board. Cut out the surfboard. Alternately, Ellison sells a die-cut of a surfboard. Use markers and stickers to decorate the surfboard. Display the art in the library or include it in the mural created in the activity above. For inspiration, display books that include surfboard art or print out some of the pictures from The Art of Drew Brophy web site,


Sea Fever

By John Masefield.

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,

And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;

And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,

And a gray mist on the sea's face, and a gray dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide

Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;

All I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,

And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the seagulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,

To the gull's way and the whale's way, where the wind's like a whetted knife;

And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,

And a quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.

Web Sites

Gallery of Angela Rossen

An online gallery of paintings of the ocean, sea creatures, and sea life by Australian artist, Angela Rossen.

Wyland Galleries

Marine artist, Wyland, is well known for his art. This online gallery features his seascapes and drawings of ocean life, as well as similar work by other artists.

Professional Resources

The Art of Drew Brophy

This artist has painted many surfboards and created surfboard art for other media.

Candy Direct

An online candy supplier.

Sailing Poems…

Poems and songs about sailing and the sea.


Texas Reading Club 2007 Programming Manual / Sail Away with Books!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011