This year during National French Week, we decided to celebrate French art by learning about Impressionism and giving our students the chance to do their own paintings. There’s a great PBS video about Impressionism that I showed my students that discusses the movement away from Romanticism, the artists, and the characteristics of the works- especially the use of brush strokes, light, color, and subject matter. The video was in English, but the students learned the terms in French, too. And my upper levels discussed in French using the new terms.
The big culmination of the unit was one day during National French Week when the students actually got to paint their own. Using French Club money, we purchased paint, brushes, and paper for the students to use. They then searched the web for artists they liked from the video and chose a painting to replicate. Since they all have their own iPads, they could all choose something different for inspiration. I was surprised at the variety of paintings they chose, and I loved being able to display their paintings around my classroom, on my door, and in the hallway around my room. The students had to do a whole painting in just one class period, but even in such a short time, the students were able to show what they learned about Impressionism by their use of color. I saw everyone experimenting with brush strokes like demonstrated in the video. It was one thing to hear the kids talking about what they learned from the lessons, but a whole other thing to SEE what they learned through what they created. Plus as they were working, it was a great time to reinforce the vocabulary of color or content of what they were painting.
Next year, I think we are going to learn about Henri Matisse and his cut-outs. I’m excited about what they’ll learn while creating! Plus, I love decorating with their art! Here’s a pic with some examples of their work. Pictured below are my students’ interpretations of Impression Sunrise by Monet, one of Degas’s ballerinas, and Monet’s Japanese bridge. Disclaimer: I’m not an art teacher by any stretch!!!!!!!