November 14, 2010

Happy Birthday, Claude Monet

The French impressionist painter Claude Monet was born on this day in1840.

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement that features small, visible brush strokes, open composition, ordinary subject matter, and an emphasis on the portrayal of light in all its varieties. 

Monet was one of the founders of this movement, and he and a small group of painters working in Paris, France, broke the standards then upheld for art:

  • Old standard: Paint realistically.

Impressionists painted their own personal emotional impressions of people or scenes.

  • Don't let the brush strokes show! It will look like a painting, not reality!
Revel in the brush strokes! A painting can look quite different close up from afar.

  • Use somber, realistic colors.
Play with colors. Dab different colors next to each other, perhaps—let them mix together in the viewers' eyes.

  • Paint historical themes, religious themes, and portraits.
Paint anything, particularly nature (that is, landscapes).

  • Paint grand people and events in formal poses.
Paint ordinary people in casual poses. Paint everyday life and events.

The name for the movement came from one of Monet's paintings, Impression, Sunrise.

Monet became known for his paintings of haystacks, gardens, and water lilies, but he painted a wide range of landscapes and seascapes.

Celebrate Monet!

Read the book Linnea in Monet's Garden, by Christina Bjork and Lena Anderson. (There is a video as well, available from Amazon or Netflix.)  

Enjoy a slide show of Monet's work. 

Monet made a series of paintings of water lilies. Check out the colors he used and the lighting and seasonal variations he captured here. Watch a modern painter creating a water lily painting here, for even more inspiration. 

Then try your own hand at painting water lilies.

You may want to try moist chalk (pastel) on wet tempera paint on oatmeal paper (or construction paper). After drawing a simple rough draft on the paper, paint a small area, no larger than your fist, with white tempera paint. Next, moisten the chalk and quickly draw on the still-wet paint. You can blend several colors of chalk, and of course the chalk will blend with the paint as well. Here are some specific directions. 

At the Garden of Praise website, there are paintings, a simple biography, a jigsaw puzzle, and other puzzles and games. 

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