Monet's Water Lily Murals

Claude Monet's
Green Reflections -- left panel

Water Lily Activity
Monet and the Impressionists for Kids

Subject: Visual Arts

Grades / Level: K-6

Students will learn about Claude Monet's wall-size paintings of water lilies then create a classroom mural decorated with Monet-inspired water lilies that they paint, cut, and fold into 3-dimensional flowers.

Length of Lesson
Two 45-minute lessons

By making thier own 3-dimensional water lilies students will understand how Monet's loose, colorful brush strokes come into focus and seem to shimmer when seen at a distance. When the lilies are displayed together in a mural, students will understand the size and impact of Monet's wall-size paintings.

Students will be able to:
• identify the Impressionist style;
• discuss how Monet painted his wall-size paintings, which fill the Musee Orangerie;
• use paint to create their own work of art inspired by Monet;
• cut, fold, and engineer a 3-dimensional piece; and
• work as a group to create a mural.

• Image of Green Reflections -- left panel by Claude Monet
• Activity Sheet:
Monet's Water Lily
• Materials listed on Water Lily Activity Sheet (note: plastic lids are not used for this project)
• 1 water lily pattern per student
• Blue construction paper -- 1 sheet per student (or at least 20 sheets total)
• Tempera paint in shades of blue and green
• Small sponges for sponge painting
• Masking tape

Day 1
1. Show students an image of Claude Monet's wall-size painting
Green Reflections while reading About the Art (see below). Ask students to look at the image up close to see the loose, unblended brushstrokes of the Impressionist style. Next, have students stand at a distance to see how the brushstrokes seem to come into focus. Ask them what words best describe Monet's painting. Answers might be: shimmering, fuzzy, colorful. Next, ask students to imagine what it would be like to be a painter who was loosing his eyesight, and what it would be like to get your eyesight back.

2. Show students the virtual tour of the Orangerie Museum. Ask them to imagine what it would be like to stand in the middle of the gallery, surrounded by Monet's shimmering art. Tell them that they too, as a class, will make a wall-size masterpiece. Each one will contribute a painted and crafted water lily for the piece.

Virtual tour Orangerie:

3. Demonstrate how to create the water lily using a printed pattern. Show students how they should use their brush to paint dabs and dashes of several colors on the petals and lily pad. This is the technique of Impressionism. (See the activity sheet for details.)

4. Now for the lily pond background. Demonstrate how to sponge-paint a sheet of blue construction paper using the Impressionist style -- refer to Monet's
Green Reflections painting for color ideas. Note: each student should fill the blue paper as he or she wishes. They do not have to cover the entire piece with paint, but some of the edges should be painted so that the individual sheets blend together when hung. Set up one table, covered with newspaper, for the sponge painting.

5. Hand out lily patterns for students to paint. When they are finished with their pattern they should write their name in one corner and set it aside to dry. Each student should then paint one sheet of blue/green background.

Day 2
Before class: tape the blue/green painted background sheets onto a wall, touching side-by-side, to create a rectangle.

1. Demonstrate how to cut, fold, stack, and staple the painted lily pattern. Note: for this project, you will not add the plastic lid under the lily pad.

2. Hand each student his or her painted pattern so they can construct their piece. When finished, each should write their name on the underside of the lily pad and bring it to the blue/green wall. Help them decide where to place their flower in the pond, and tape it in place.

3. When all lilies are in the pond, ask students to discuss how their piece is similar to Monet's painting and what it is like to stand in front of their shimmering work of art.

About the Art
When Claude Monet was 76 years old he decided to paint a series of enormous water lily murals. They were over 6 feet high and up to 55 feet long. These murals would cover the walls of two large oval rooms. He built a special studio to paint them in. By now, he had painted so many water lilies that they were etched upon his mind -- he could paint them in his studio from memory. It was fortunate that Monet could rely on his memory because he was losing his eyesight to cataracts. (Cataracts make it seem as if you are looking through a hazy-yellow film.) Finally, Monet had an operation on his eyes. It was a success. He was so happy to see the clear, bright world again! At age 84 he said, "I'm working as never before, happy with what I'm doing. . . .I only ask to live to a hundred." Monet was able to finish his water lily murals before he died at age 86. Today they line the oval walls in a museum in Paris called the Orangerie. -- from Monet and the Impressionists for Kids -- 21 Activities by Carol Sabbeth