Impressionist Painting for Kids

What You Need:

  • Book or set of reproductions showing impressionist paintings
  • Several colors of washable tempera paint (Crayola brand is perfect for this)
  • Paper
  • Easel
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paper plates
  • Newspapers to minimize mess
  • Old T-shirt or apron to use as a smock

What You Do:

  1. Start by looking at some impressionist paintings with your child in a book or online.
  2. Ask her what she sees and notices about the paintings, and then tell her what you notice. Talk about shapes and colors. For example, you could tell her that Monet never used black. Be sure to mention that if you look up close, all you see is paint blobs but if you step back, you get the “impression” of gardens and buildings.
  3. Take a look outside or take a walk. Invite your child to see what happens when she squints her eyes to make things look blurry. Ask her what colors and shapes she sees, and ask what she thinks Monet would see.
  4. Once you get back from the walk, it's time to set up. If you've got a yard, set up your child's easel near a garden or tree. Otherwise, try setting up near a window with a view.
  5. Be sure that your child is wearing old clothing or a smock to protect clothing, and lay out newspapers in case any paint spills.
  6. Working with your child, mix up the paint on some paper plates. Use the colors you see outside as a guideline for which paints to mix.
  7. Now invite your child to splatter and stroke and see if she can share the impression she sees. Give her plenty of room, and plenty of tries.
  8. Great painters always give their work a title. After the paint is dry, ask your kid about the title of her new masterpiece. Once she's decided, have her dictate to you.

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