Family Activities Inspired by The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset
By Courtney Klemens, Manager of Family Programs, and
Emily Perreault, PreK Programs Educator
- Atmospheric art. Make your own seascape using watercolor paints and materials found around your home. On a piece of thick paper, start by drawing natural features of a sea scene with crayons or oil pastels: sand, palm trees, fish, and birds. Or, use a white crayon to draw wiggly lines that will become waves in the water. Then, brush areas of watercolor paint over your scene. Think about the colors you might find in ocean water. In The Cliff, Étretat, Sunset, Monet used warm and cool colors layered together to make the water shimmer! To add texture to your painting, sprinkle salt on the wet paint.
- Keeping track of light. Monet famously painted the same places over and over to discover how effects of light changed over periods of time. Challenge yourself to draw the same scene out your window at multiple times. Set an alarm or timer to remind yourself to look. Observe closely first. Where do shadows fall? What color or tone does the light have? How bright is it? Then draw or paint what you see. Compare your scenes at the end of the day.
- One–week challenge. Plan to observe the sunset in your neighborhood every day for a week. Keep a sunset journal to capture details of what you notice each day. You can take a photograph, draw a sketch, or describe it in words. At the end of the week, look back to see what details you noticed. Which sunset was your favorite and why?
- Neighborhood art gallery. Create beautiful scenes on and around your home to transform your neighborhood! Ask neighbors to join in (keeping a safe distance). You might try chalk travel postcards on the sidewalk or the driveway. You can use the long side of the chalk to create big washes of color. Experiment with layering colors, a technique used in impressionist art.
- Artwork in your window. Create an impressionist-inspired painting in a window in your home! Make an easy-to-clean window paint by mixing the following ingredients:
- 1 cup of plain flour
- 1 cup of water
- 1 cup of dish soap
Stir together in a bowl until smooth. Then separate the paint into smaller containers, add a few drops of gel food coloring, and stir to combine. Place newspaper or a drop cloth underneath the window you will paint on. Then, take a paintbrush and layer dabs of color on a window. Paint a favorite place, or experiment with blending marks of colors, inspired by Monet. (To remove paint, use a wet sponge to wipe the paint away, and dry with a clean cloth.)
These books for young readers will transport you to the world of Monet!
Katie Meets the Impressionists by James Mayhew
Katie visits the museum for her grandmother’s birthday. She soon discovers that her imagination allows her to enter the paintings on the walls beyond the frame! During her adventures, she meets Claude Monet’s son, picks a birthday bouquet for her grandmother, and explores other worlds created by the impressionist painters. Enjoy a read-aloud video of this book.
Monet Paints a Day by Julie Danneberg
This book transports you to Etretat in France where Claude Monet spends his days studying how light changes his environment. Join him as he travels with his painting supplies each day to the beach, working on multiple canvases at a time to capture the changes in the cliffs throughout the day. This beautifully illustrated book shows Claude Monet’s persistence to paint nature in the moment.
The Golden Glow by Benjamin Flouw
This whimsical book follows a fox as he journeys to find the golden glow. While traveling he observes his environment, through drawing and note-taking, which helps him celebrate the natural world around him. See if he can capture light in the same way as Monet!
Brush with Greatness: Monet by Tamra B. Orr
While sweeping the platforms of a busy train station in Paris, Gabriel, the young narrator, shares his experience meeting Claude Monet. Through their conversation, Gabriel learns what inspired and influenced Monet’s style of painting.