Author: Sarah Clowe, Director of Art Programs

Materials: pencil, paper, washable markers,
Optional materials: crayons, permanent markers

Join us in creating the beautiful effect of a reflection in water!

Artists young and old are invited to create.  The very young may enjoy the simple process of creating prints from basic drawn lines and shapes.  Older youth as well as adults can experience the full detail of the project.

This landscape and marker print project takes its inspiration from the luminous work of Stephen Hannock and his River Keeper series which features scenes of lovely reflections in water. Stephen Hannock is an artist whose work is in the collection of the Albany Institute of History & Art.  Through the support of the National Endowment of the Arts, the Albany Institute of History & Art interviewed four artists including Stephen Hannock for a special series called Artists' Voices. Learn more about Hannock and his art by streaming the video at the end of this post.

Step 1: Sketching Your Landscape

a. Fold your paper in half horizontally.

b. On the top half of the paper sketch a landscape scene.  I prefer to start in pencil so that I may make corrections as I continue on.

If you would like to draw from a piece in the museum's collections you may visit the online collections database.

Here are the links to a couple of the images you see in the examples on this blog:

Step 2: Color in Your Sketch

Color in your sketch with water soluble markers and try not to leave any white space.  It's important that you use water soluble (washable) markers in order for the reflection part of the project to work.

Step 3: Add an Object to the Foreground

You may choose to add one or two items to draw in the water to stand out in the front (foreground) of your picture by placing them in the bottom half of the sheet. These need to be drawn and colored in crayon to resist water and push away the color from the markers. Waves may be created with crayon marks in the blank space if desired. You may also choose to use permanent markers to draw objects in the water as it will also not change when it meets the water in the next step.

Step 4: Create a Printed Reflection

a. Slightly wet the entire bottom half of the paper with either a sponge or a paintbrush and water until the entire bottom half is damp.  

b. Fold paper in half again so your drawing is against the wet paper and gently rub. When opened the water soluble markers will have left a print of the drawing on the bottom half of the paper creating the appearance of a reflection in water.

Optional Extension: Add text

Stephen Hannock adds writing to his paintings that blends in the artwork so one has to usually look very closely to notice it.  Try adding in subtle text (writing) to your artwork by describing the scene in words written and hidden in the drawing.  In Nocturne for the River Keeper, Green Light the writing is hidden in the water and describes the landscape he has painted.

Artists' Voices: Stephen Hannock Video

More About Our Inspiration: Nocturne for the River Keeper, Green Light

Nocturne for the River Keeper, Green Light
Stephen Hannock
Polished oil on canvas, 2001
Gift of Stephen Hannock, in honor of Matthew and Phoebe Bender, 2001.14

 Hannock painted this work especially for the Albany Institute of History & Art in 2001 and donated it to the museum in honor of museum philanthropists Matthew & Phoebe Bender. The painting is part of Hannock’s nocturnal River Keeper Series. In this painting, Hannock has included a diary which is inscribed in the lower edge of the painting, and appears visually to contribute to the sense of the mist rising off the water at the end of the day. According to the diary, this view is just south of Garrison, New York, looking west across the Hudson River to West Point.


The title of the painting pays tribute to the first Hudson River keeper, Tom Whyatt, who held this position for two and one half years beginning in 1973. The job of the river keeper is to patrol the one hundred and fifty-four mile-long river for illegal dumping, chemical spills, and other potential problems, and to maintain a general awareness on the general health of the flora and fauna living in the river through the cycle of seasons.



Published April 16, 2020