The kids and I have been studying Mary Cassatt in our Art History studies this year. Cassatt was heavily influenced by by the Impressionism movement, so I thought it would be fun for the kids and I to try out a painting project in the style ourselves!

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Teach Your Kids to Paint like the Impressionists

While I have some experience with painting, I really was unsure of where to start with my young elementary age students. I could show them examples of Impressionistic style paintings, but I wanted to choose a project that they would think was fun and simple. I have to tell you up front, this project didn’t work out perfectly. But I still highly recommend it!

As I was searching for project ideas, I came across this video…

I loved the idea of starting with a photograph and using it as a template. I showed the video to my kids and we discussed how the artist used curved-line strokes and surprising colors. We talked a little about light and shadows and I gave everyone a pallette with with mostly primary colors and a skin color that I helped them to mix up. I printed out photographs of themselves on cardstock to use as templates. I didn’t want them to be overwhelmed, so I only printed the photographs in about 4.5X6 sizes.

The results were fun…and a little funny…

We could definitely all use a lot more practice before calling ourselves Impressionists!

I think if you are only working with one or two students at a time, you could probably help to give each child a little more guidance. I really let my kids do their own thing and a couple of them, especially the youngest, went a little off-lesson! But it was still a really fun project and I think it taught the kids an important lesson. Before we tried to paint like Impressionists, I think the kids really just thought of Impressionism as “messy-painting”. However, after trying it out for ourselves we all realized that this style requires a lot of technique and skill.

Finally, I asked my oldest daughter to watch the video and try out the project. She didn’t use the curved-line technique in the video, but I did think her piece turned out to look even more like a Cassatt!

For more ideas on teaching your kids about Impressionists, I’d recommend these…

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