Mary Cassatt is an American Impressionist painter who focused her work on the relationships between mothers and children. Not only is her work touching and inspiring, but her life was as well. She overcame many obstacles in order to pursue a career as an artist—including the misconception that women's jobs were strictly inside the home!
Celebrate this important woman in history with an activity that you can do with your child. She'll create a painting that demonstrates a special moment between mother and child, such as Cassatt's painting entitled La Toilette, 1891. Painting this will tap into her creativity as it shows her a new style of art. And, this framed masterpiece makes a great Mother's Day gift!
What You Need:
- Canvas (any size)
- Acrylic paints (suggested colors: titanium white, cadmium red, cadmium yellow, pthalo blue, pthalo green, burnt umber or burnt sienna)
- Paintbrushes (small, medium, and large)
- Container of water to clean brushes
- Paper or plastic palette to mix paints
- Small spray bottle of water
What You Do:
- Before your child begins her piece, she must plan it. She can do this either by brainstorming and sketching scenes from her childhood, or she can pencil directly onto her canvas. However, if she chooses the second option, have her draw very lightly and erase carefully as she should avoid too much pencil or eraser residue on the painting surface.
- Have her set up the canvas where she'll be able to leave it for a few days. Make sure it's a room that doesn't have things that could be easily ruined by paint, such as the garage (without cars!). She should also dress in clothes that she doesn't mind getting a little messy.
- After she has planned out what she will draw, have her pick out all of the colors needed for the painting and place a quarter-sized drop of each color onto the palette.
- Begin painting! Acrylic paints have many different shades of each color and different colors have different tones, so she may need to experiment by mixing colors to choose what is best for the piece. Mixing colors can be challenging, but these tips will help you get started:
- Red and yellow make orange
- Yellow and blue make green
- Blue and red make purple
- Red, yellow, and blue can be mixed to make a skin tone. Add white to this mix to make a lighter skin tone, or add more blue or a brown to make a darker skin tone.
- As she works on her masterpiece, be sure to wash the brushes as she change colors and soak them in water between uses. Acrylic paint dries quickly, so be sure to spray the palette with water if it sits out for more than 30 minutes or if you notice it starting to become sticky and dry.
- Invite her to work on her painting at her own pace, taking breaks if needed, until she feels that it's done. If she gets frustrated, take a look at Mary Cassatt’s work for ideas about shading and color choice, or have a look at real-life photos of people and children to help guide her painting.