Student Monets

It was so thrilling to have an entire day to work with 5th grade students doing art. Teacher had asked me to introduce Monet because the class was beginning to study Paris, France. She planned to have them create gargoyles which I had the privilege to see Friday while I was waiting for the 2nd grade class I was teaching.

Just to clarify, a "whole" day is not really that long given PE, lunch, recesses, attendance, breakfasts, and cleaning up before the end-of-day busses arrive. But still it is a gift to have no other interruptions.

Not long enough to work with oils and I didn't want to break out the oil pastels only to find we didn't have colors we needed, I brought my own supplies which included tempera paint (some with glitter), watercolor markers and colored pencils.  We painted on cardstock.

My goals were to introduce Monet as an artist and person, to show students that they have wonderful subjects in their own environment to paint just like Monet had, and to experience Impressionistic painting with the thicker and quick-dying tempera substituting for oil paint.

After the introduction presentation, rules (don't paint your neighbor, really!) and demonstration I furnished the Bridge photo for their reference. We looked at ways Monet painted from real life and his variations of the same subject.

Once the preliminaries were in place, I gave them freedom to create, embellish and even extend to personal expressions as long as they used an Impressionistic style.

I found the Impressionistic style was the biggest challenge of all for most of the students. They are so used to being told step by step how to do things (which is necessary if you are learning math, wrting, science, etc.) but some really struggled with the idea that we weren't going to draw every little flower together petal by petal. Some students even began acting sick or 'needing to talk to someone in another part of the building' before they grasped that they really could paint beautifully with llittle dabs and dots.

I encouraged, I gave practice papers by the stack, I demonstrated, and soon everyone was asking for more paint.

After lunch I gave them 15 minutes to add some "shadows" and "details" with markers and colored pencils just to bring out some contrasts. The rule was "less is best".

They gave the lesson 3, 4 and 5 collectively for how much they thought it was valuable enough for me to teach again to other students. No one gave it a 2 or 1 (worse lesson ever). Whew! I like to include student in assessing the work we do as an example for giving and accepting positive critique.

I am sharing with you an mpg4 video gallery of the paintings created by this class last week. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did in making them. The student's parents will have access to the video to see and share too.