Overall Looking Questions

  • Have all your students become familiar with all of the transparencies.
  • What kinds of brushstrokes do you see in each painting?
  • Where is the horizon line in each painting?
  • Lights and shadows interested many Impressionist painters. Describe the colors and shapes of the shadows in each painting.
  • Next, group the paintings by themes beginning with city or country life.
  • What other categories or themes can you create?


The Arts

Up until the 1860s, European painters often painted idealized people and events from the Bible, mythology, or history. In contrast, Impressionist paintings often depict ordinary situations. We may think differently about ordinary situations in our own lives by drawing or writing about them. Ask students to list five things they do each day that might be appropriate for an Impressionist painting of a modern life subject. Vote on one subject and then have each of the students paint it. A busy, fleeting moment in a hallway or cafeteria, for instance, may seem more beautiful upon reflection. Explain that everyone will have a different "impression" of the scene. Try to emphasize the lights, shadows, and colors in the scene.

Math or Science

All of these two-dimensional, flat works create an illusion of three-dimensional depth. Rank them from the composition that appears to be the closest to the viewer (or most shallow) to the composition with the greatest feeling of depth. Look for the ways that each painting depicts depth. For instance, are the colors softer in the background? Did the artist use perspective? Are objects smaller in the background than in the foreground?

Do objects in the foreground overlap objects in the background? Although there are no specific right answers, ask the students to hypothesize how many feet of depth each painting illustrates. What clues did the artist provide to support the hypotheses?

Language Arts

Discuss the transparencies with the class. What are their favorite paintings? Why did they choose those? Have the students write an essay from the point of view of a collector or museum director who wants to purchase one of the paintings. Include why they chose the painting and how it will add to their current collections. For instance, a director of a self-portrait museum might want to add the self-portrait by Van Gogh to his or her collection.

Social Studies

Have the students stage an art exhibition of their own within the classroom. Send out invitations and design posters to advertise the exhibition. Some students will be traditional artists while others will be experimental artists. Other students will be critics and collectors. The artwork and written exercises that the students create based upon the activities in this packet would be appropriate for the exhibition.

Continue reading on to the next page, #1: Monet, The Port at Argenteuil.

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