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Plein-Air Painting like Monet

Monet art lesson“Plein-air” is French for “open air.” (“plein” is pronounced like “plain.”) So plein-air painting simply mean going outside to paint. “Plein-air” is a funny little phrase I thought no one used anymore until I learned what it meant a while back. Now, I hear people, mostly artists, using it all the time. I don’t know if it’s always been a common phrase for artists or if it’s making a resurgence. (If you know, by all means, comment below and let us all know!)

Monet was one of the original impressionists and he loved to go outside and paint scenes from his garden. His paintings of water lilies have made him one of the most widely known artists of all time.

(As a total side note, my spell checker has automatically changed Monet to Money and Plein to Plain so many times I’ve lost count!! ARG!)

Our Monet Project

For our Monet week, we’ll be focused on two things. (It’s always a little risky to focus on two things, but I think it’s worth it this week.) First, we’ll be plein-air painting. Second, we’ll be trying to paint with short little dabs instead of long brush strokes. This is how Monet did it and you can see it in his paintings. The little dabs are a great way to end up with a very Impressionist type of painting where it almost looks like nothing up close, but a little blurry or out of focus from a few steps back. This impressionist style often ends up having an almost dreamy feel.

Scheduling Monet

Monet is scheduled for week 16, which will be January 31st in our community. In sunny Tucson, AZ that means it might be an absolutely beautiful day to paint outside or it might be a tad chilly. I plan to buy myself two more weeks and move Monet to week 18 because February is usually one of our best months, weather wise. If you live anywhere colder than Tucson you’ll probably want to move Monet to week 18 as well. If you live somewhere truly cold, you might need to paint looking out a window or paint a photograph of some scenery. It’s not plein-air, but then you can really focus on those short little dabbing paint brush strokes.

Here’s the Full Lesson Plan

I wrote this whole lesson plan out for my tutors and for you! It includes everything you need. This 9 page lesson plan includes the following:

  • A condensed background on the artist,
  • 15 Printable pictures of the artists’ work (including a photograph of Monet),
  • A carefully crafted sentence about Monet (ideal for memorization),
  • Vocabulary words and definitions
  • Materials list
  • Simple instructions that any artistically-challenged teacher can understand and use,
  • Suggestions for scaling the project to different ages,
  • References to the pertinent Classical Conversations Acts and Facts cards.

Purchase to full Plein-air Painting like Monet lesson plan here

Want More?

This blog post is part of a seven part series about the amazing artists we study in cycle 2 of Classical Conversations. Here are links to the whole series:

  1. Saving Christmas with Amazing Artist Lesson Plans
  2. Drawing Facial Expressions Like Rembrandt
  3. Drawing Botanicals like Linnaeus
  4. Painting Landscapes Like Gainsborough
  5. Plein-Air Painting like Monet
  6. Capturing Action Like Degas
  7. Glob it on like Morisot


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