Friday, April 22, 2011

Master Artist- Claude Monet

Claude Monet was one of the founders of the French Impressionist School of Art. He gave this advice to young artists: "I would advise young artists . . . to paint as they can, as long as they can, without being afraid of painting badly . . . . If their painting doesn't improve by itself, it means that nothing can be done - and I wouldn't do anything!”

Create a photo book of your kids' art and lessons!

Leading Idea: 
Art has a purpose!

"All I did was to look at what the universe showed me, to let my brush bear witness to it." ~ Claude Monet

Biblical Principle: 
"All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."  John 1:3

Usually I choose the Biblical Principle first by choosing a verse that fits the focus I have in mind... or from the reasoning I come to after researching. However, this time I used a verse that fit the focus and that gave me a spring board for my Leading Idea. I also found the quote by Monet to fit the focus so I used that and tied it in to our reasoning. You'll see how as you read on...

(The Impressionists used light colors in their paintings. I took that information, light and color, and used them for our word study to help us better comprehend the use of light and to better visualize color use in this manner.)

Webster's 1828 Dictionary
Light, n. 
Tending to break out or open, or to shoot, to gleam, and as a noun, a breaking out in blotches, a gleam, indistinct light; that is apt to break out, that is bright, to make bright, to clear, to appear in spots; a darting, sudden throw, glance, flash; to throw, to fling, to pelt; lightening.

Webster's 1828 Dictionary
Color, n.
2. Appearance of a body to the eye, or a quality of sensation, caused by the rays of light; hue; dye; as the color of gold, or of indigo.

It's really hard for me to narrow down a list of favorites of Monet's works. If I made a mini-gallery here of what I liked, it would make this posting really long. :) So, I'll just list some that I recommend:

Luncheon on the Grass, 1865
La Grenouillere 1869
Impression, Sunrise 1872
Poppies Blooming, 1873
The Seine at Giveryn, 1897
Water Lilies 1907
Water Lilies
Nympheas, 1915
The Bark at Giverny
Four Poplars on the Banks
Woman with a Parasol
Weeping Willow, 1918-1919

Claude Monet's Background:
  • He lived November 14th, 1840 - December 5, 1926,
  • On May 20, 1841 he was baptized in the parish church,
  • He was a French Impressionist Painter,
  • He had an appreciation of light and color,
  • He liked to paint by expressing his perception before nature,
  • He liked to paint plein-air (out of doors),
  • He is the founder of  French Impressionist Painting,
  • The term Impressionism comes from his painting titled: Impression, Sunrise,
  • "When Monet traveled to Paris to visit the Louvre, he witnessed painters copying from the old masters. Having brought his paints and other tools with him, he would instead go and sit by a window and paint what he saw. Monet was in Paris for several years and met other young painters who would become friends and fellow impressionists," Wikipedia
  • In 1862 Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris. Cleyre, Monet, Renoir, Bazille, and Sisley shared new approaches to art by painting the effects of light en plein air. They used broken color and rapid brushstrokes, in what later came to be known as Impressionism.
  • "Monet was fond of painting controlled nature: his own gardens in Giverny, with its water lilies, pond, and bridge. He also painted up and down the banks of the Seine.He wrote daily instructions to his gardener, precise designs and layouts for plantings, and invoices for his floral purchases and his collection of botany books." Wikipedia 

Claude Monet said: "All I did was to look at what the universe showed me, to let my brush bear witness to it."

Webster's 1828 Dictionary
Universe, n.
The collective name of heaven and earth, and all that belongs to them; the whole system of created things.

We can bear witness to the creativity and majesty of our Creator by painting scenes in creation that bring glory to God. Claude Monet used his unique, individual style of painting landscapes en plein air (i.e. out in creation) to bear witness of creation.


As described in the definitions of light and color, Claude Monet desired to paint in "a breaking out in blotches" or "broken spots." He took quick glances at his subject he was painting as he applied the colors he saw- this helped him achieve the loose effect of his paintings. He focused more on the color and loose shapes... "the appearance of a body to the eye." 

Eventually, Monet's color pallet did not contain black. Eventually he gave up browns... and other earth tones. He is quoted, "In short, I use white lead, cadmium yellow, vermilion, madder, cobalt blue, chrome green. That's all." (You'll see some browns in the paintings we did because the copy that I printed out had browns in it vs. the image below of Monet's Haystack Snow Effect. I'm not sure if it was because of the first image I came across or if it was how my printer printed it.) 

Haystack Snow Effect
Claude Monet

My (hurried) Impression of 
Haystack Snow Effect
(I know... I know... the angle of the shadow is off.) :)

I gave each of the kids a copy of a simplified line drawing of Haystack Snow Effect seen below:

I found it at Enchanted Learning's website. You can go here to print out copies of it. This helped them greatly with placement and to visually grasp the looseness of this style- notice there aren't any details. They looked at it and drew it free hand onto their water color paper.

  • Water Color Paper (We like the brand Canson XL Series at Michael's Craft Store. We buy the 9x12 pad. The paper weight is 140 LB. We have found this to work well with a variety of mediums. I like to use the 40% off coupons. They also have a teacher discount of  %15 on Fridays only- which can be combined with the coupon!)
  • Pencils
  • Oil Pastels- white, gray, blues, golden yellow, orange, red, brown (?). The original copy I printed out had brown and I'm not sure if it's because of the printer or if the original image I used had it in it from a bad scan. (We buy Artist Loft brand at Michael's Craft Store. It's only like $5 for a box containing a large number of small sticks of colors).
  • A printout of the painting or the simplified drawing of it.
Art Project:

Step One: 
Cut 9x12 sheets of water color paper in half width-wise. One per student.

Step Two:
Give your students a printout of the painting or simplified drawing of it and have them draw freehand onto their paper with their pencil.

Step Three:
Have them begin with the sky. Remind them to use "broken spots of color" like Monet did and to focus on the shape of color. They are aiming for the "appearance of body to the eye."

Step Four:
They can use their fingers to blend the colors if they think they need to (though keep in mind they don't blend well on their own.)

***Remember that oil pastels may stain, so take care when using them.

What some of the kids did!

11 Year Old

9 Year Old

7 Year Old

6 Year Old

3 Year Old

Remember to Record! You can create a photo book to record their art lessons and pictures of their creations. It's a great way to also share with family members! 

This lesson content is © 2011 Principled Academy Home School. All rights reserved.
Permission is granted for educational purposes only- but not for profit. Thank You.


    1. Look forward to doing this with my children. Thanks.

      1. I'd love to see how they turn out, Gina! :)

    2. I am super impressed with the level of work that your three year old did! They all did great, but I just never would have expected it to be as close as it is at that age.

      1. I'll pass this compliment on to her. She'll be pleased to hear it. :)