In general, plants of any type are a terrific art focus. Having
student create art (sketch, paint, color, collage) that features
their favorite flower, fruit, vegetable, or tree is always a great
Gardens as Visual Art
Cutting Gardens, such as the one at the Luther Burbank Home and
Gardens, are beautiful to look at and enjoy. This type of garden
is grown to provide wonderful visual art in the form of flower
arrangements. Claude Monet created his gardens in Giverney, France,
to serve as models for his paintings. The Cutting Garden section of the Present Tour for the Home and Gardens can serve
as a launching point for students to explore the art of Monet
and even the art of other Impressionists. The Giverny site is extensive; it has many photos of Monet's Gardens, lists
of the plants used to create these gardens, and links to museums
which house Monet's paintings. This site is in French, but can
be easily changed to English by clicking the flag at the top of
the first page.
Monet Art Project
Here's a project that combines the visual of a flower arrangement
with that of Monet's soft, Impressionist style. The finished product
will be a painting featuring a tempera-paint vase with Impressionist-style
flowers. Excluding any pre-teaching about Monet or Cutting Gardens,
actual art activity time should be around 45-60 minutes. There
are two parts to the activity, a practice session to learn technique,
and the final project session. You may decide to break this lesson
down into two smaller activities, practice one session, final
project the next. This activity has been adapted from the Sonoma County Office of
Ed Art Docent Program
- Paper Plates (1 per student)
- Tempera Paints (Recommended colors: green, yellow, red, blue,
white. Note: You can use only primary colors and eliminate green
if you want to show how to create secondary colors. You'll still
- Paintbrushes (1 per student)
- Water Containers (so that students can rinse brushes at their
- Paper towels (each student will need several)
- White construction paper, minimum size: 12" x18" (2 sheets per
student). If possible, larger sheets work very well.
- Optional: Monet posters, vase of flowers
- Paper Plates(aka, paint palettes): For each student: plate should
have 1-2 tbsp. of each selected tempera paint on it.
- Students will need to rinse brushes frequently, so it's a good
idea to have water containers ready.
- Students will go through a lot of paper towels when practicing
and then later, when creating their flowers. It's a good idea
to plan some used paper towel pick-ups at several points during
- Hand out only 1 of the sheets of construction paper for the practice
session. When the practice session is finished, hand out the 2nd
- It's always a good idea for teachers to try this out before actually
teaching the activity to the class. It's a fun project for kids
Part 1: Practice Session
In this part of the activity, students will create and practice
with crumpled paper "flower stamps," using 2 colors of their choice
- Students should crumple up a paper towel, creating a fairly flat
"bottom." Nooks and crannies are fine; they will create interesting
- Using the brush, student will choose a color and paint part of
the "bottom" of their paper "stamp." Rinsing off, they will choose
a 2nd color and paint this color on the bottom of the "stamp"
as well. The paint should not be too thick.
- Now the student are ready to "stamp" their flowers on thier practice
sheets of construction paper. Students should keep stamping the
colors until the paint is gone from the bottom of the crumpled
paper towel. The trick is to not blend the colors, but let the
separated colors of the earlier stamping stay bold, while the
later stamps will show blended fainter color. This technique gives
the "impression" of flowers!
- Using additional crumpled paper towels, students can repeat this
stamping practice, trying out new color combinations and different
"stamp" shapes: rounded, vertical, etc. White is a good 3rd color
to add becasue it will increase the shading within the flowers.
Remember, brushes need to be rinsed frequently!
- When you feel that the students are ready, you can end the practice
session. You have two options: you can go directly on to the final
project or stop for the day and do the final project in another
Part 2: Final Session
In this part of the activity, student will apply their crumpled
flower stamping towards the creation of an Impressionist-style
vase of flowers.
- Students should receive their 2nd sheet of construction paper.
- You may want to replenish the colors on the student paper plate
- Construction paper should be vertical on students desks.
- Using the bottom 3rd of the paper, students should draw a flower
vase. It would be a good idea to model this part of the activity.
Students may need help figuring out what the bottom 3rd of the
paper is. The remaining 2/3rds of the paper will be needed for
the flower arrangement.
- After the vase is drawn, students should choose a color and paint
their vase. Depending upon available time, they may add some designs
or decorations to the vase's "surface." These vases should dry
before going on to the next step.
- Now the students can create their Impressionist-style flower arrangements.
Having practiced crumpled paper flower stamping, they should know
what they want to do. Remember, the flowers should be stamped
until the paint is gone.
- Don't forget to add foliage to the flower arrangement!
- You, as the teacher, may need to let students know when they are