Monday, October 22, 2012

What a Relief! Monet Waterlilies

Last week my Modern Art class created pictures based on van Gogh's "Starry Night" painting. The focus was on little strokes of color and using MANY colors in each section. It seemed to me that a natural next step would be to learn about Monet. With this project, the students could, again, work from a reproduction in order to increase their awareness of the artist's technique and color choices, and build on what they learned last week.

Monet also used little dashes of color in his work. We used oil pastels to create our dashes of color. I told the children that we weren't doing to connect these dashes with watercolor paint like we did last week in our van Gogh pieces--this week they needed to cover the entire surface of their piece with dashes of color. To make this less daunting, I reduced the size of the paper. I also used a nice blue color of matte board as their "base." This way, if a bit of blue poke through between the dashes, it still looked like water.

Monet also used MANY colors in his work. We listed all the colors we saw in the reproductions in front of us and pretty much determined that we could use all of the oil pastels in our kits (they are a collection of 12 colors). I asked them to try to use every color at least once in their backgrounds. This wasn't a set rule (like my three-colors-in-each-section rule of last week), but I wanted them to try MANY colors.

We then created the lily pads and lilies separately and attached them. The children were open to working in this way since the "collage technique" was similar to the van Gogh pieces they had made the week before. The lilies are created using tissue paper "puffs" and stick out from the background. This is not 3D, since we can't completely walk around the piece and see it from all sides, but is called a relief.

I had never done a lesson like this before, but I was VERY happy with it. I love the dashes of color and the bright hues of the oil pastels!

Monet Water Lily Relief

Supplies Needed:
  • Reproduction of one of Monet's Water Lily Paintings
  • Matte Board scrap in a medium blue (or other watery color), ours were 8" x 10"
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Masking tape
  • Oil pastels (ours were "Cray•pas" brand, a set of 16)
  • Scrap pieces of poster board or white card stock (for lily pads)
  • Scissors
  • Scrap bits of tissues paper in a variety of peach, pink, white, yellow colors (three colors at least)
  • Clear tape
  • Tacky glue

1. Use the ruler to create a 1" border around the edge of your matte board--all four sides.

2. Attach pieces of masking tape to the matter board, using your pencil lines as a guide, to create a nice taped "frame" around the edge of the matte board. When you are done, you'll be removing the tape and this will leave a nice clean edge around your piece. **TIP: stick the masking tape strips to your shirt before placing them on the matte board so they loose some of their stickiness and are easier to remove later on.**

3. Begin filling in the background of your piece using the oil pastels. You will want to use little dashes of color--using the end of the oil pastel will give you a nice thick dash. You can change colors and layer dashes over one another. Make sure you aren't scribbling like you do with a crayon--dash, dash, dash...filling in the water and the plants on the edge of the water.

4. Once the background is done, draw three ovals with pencil onto the white card stock. The ovals should be about 1 1/2" wide. These are your lily pads. Fill in the lily pads using at least three colors (ha! I had to say it!). Cut the ovals out and put a little slit in each one coming from one edge into the center. Put aside.

5. Cut or rip three tissue paper squares. They should be of a couple different colors and be around 1 1/2" square. Layer them and pinch the center and give them a twist to make a little "pouf" of tissue paper. This will be your water lily. Insert the twisted tip of the water lily into the slit of the lily pad you created. Tape the point of the tip to the backside of the lily pad with clear tape to secure them together. Repeat with the other lily pads you have created.

6. Put a dab of glue on the back of each lily pad and place them onto the background. If you'd like, you can add some lily pads to the background with oil pastels. This gives the illusion of depth in your picture, but it is not necessary.


  1. These are just lovely and I want to thank you for taking the time to share the instructions in detail. I am going to make these as a Monet study with our homeschool group. Thanks so much, Catherine, AUST.

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Catherine! So glad you found this post useful! I love to share! Tell your students I say "hello!" from New Hampshire in the States!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...