“It looks like a leg standing in the water,” commented one of the students about Claude Monet’s “The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset”. I just love hearing their thoughts at the art museum. There were other comments made but that one stuck with me as it made me chuckle.
Claude Monet is hands down the most famous impressionists, and here we were standing in front of one of two of his works! How fortunate are we to be able to visit two of Monet’s works. And just after our last art co-op class was on Impressionism.
Impressionism began in France, in the 1860’s, when a group of artists decided to rebel against the established art critics to form a new style of painting. Impressionists worked to capture a moment in time in their paintings. Meant to be an insult, the critics called their works of art mere “impressions” of reality. And there you have it, Impressionism was born.
One week ago, I had started off class by showing a few pictures of Monet’s artwork (which pales in comparison to see one up close). Then we spoke a little about impressionism before trying our hand at it.
Impressionists were more concerned with the light and color of the moment they were try to capture, rather than the details of objects. Often the artists painted outdoors, therefore, they had to work quickly to capture the light before it changed. This lead to the use of rapid brush strokes and often unmixed color to save time.
I had everyone watch this great video by Kyle Wood. It is a good explanation of how to do an impressionist painting. Plus, the kids were quite impressed with watching the piece come together. They were excited to get started on their own piece.
Everyone was given a piece of watercolor paper and a tray of watercolors, along with brushes and a pencil. The pencil was used to lightly sketch in the outlines of the landscape they were creating. These lines are barely seen, if at all, in the finished piece. Then they were set to begin their magic. We had kids ranging in age from Pre-K through 6th grade. So all ages and skill level. However, they all seemed to enjoy it.
I think a great follow up project would be to go to a lake and have them paint what they see around them, while using the impressionism techniques learned.