Children’s Art Project for Mother’s Day, Inspired by Monet’s Love of Flowers

photo taken in Monet’s garden at Giverny

Monet loved flowers. Moms and Grandmothers do, too , so here’s an easy art project for children to do for Mother’s Day.

Monet’s garden at Giverny is as much a work of art as his paintings, and he often cut flowers to paint when the weather prevented him from working outdoors.

This project is an excerpt from an earlier post of mine about Renoir, another Impressionist who loved flowers!

Art Project for Mother’s Day

Supplies:  20160502_125357sturdy paper, pencils, crayons, scissors, glue, cheap watercolor set, brushes

Directons:

1. With a green crayon draw20160428_102200 curving stems as if coming from a narrow vase in the middle at the bottom of the paper. (See illustration) (If your child is very young, you can draw the stems so that the bouquet isn’t too small)

 

2. With crayons of a variety of colors, draw the outlines of ‘flower’ 20160428_103005shapes (daisies, circles, spirals, etc.) among, and at the end of, the stems. Leave coloring them in to the next step—painting.

3. Now, just like the Impressionists, paint blobs of paint right over the crayon ‘flowers’. 20160428_104913 20160428_104910Blobs work because the wax of the crayons repels the water color and shows through. (Encourage children to use small amounts of water to mix paint. Otherwise the colors get pretty watery)

4. While the flowers dry, trace on another piece of paper around each child’s hands (have them spread their fingers apart a little). Include a few inches of their arms. 20160428_103747 (use colored paper or children may color these and add rings, watches, etc.)

5. Cut out the hands.

6. Glue the hands, fingers interlaced with thumbs up, at the bottom of the painting as if they are holding the bouquet! (the fingers interlace more easily if the hands come together at an angle)

Voila!    Write Happy Mother’s Day across the top and give to Mom or Grandma!

Other Things to Do

  • Visit Monet’s gardens online at   http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/visitgb.htm
  • Visit art museums or go online to see Impressionist collections and see how many have flowers in them. Many American museums have at least a few, because Americans were among the first to buy their work. here’s a link to the Impressionist collection at the Art Institute of Chicago.   https://www.artic.edu/collection?style_ids=Impressionism
  • Look at works by Mary Cassatt online. An American Impressionist artist living in Paris, she not only introduced many of her friends to Impressionist art and encouraged them to buy these works, but she painted many lovely works of mothers and children together.

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Don’t miss the next kathythepicturelady post with funny Molly photos.

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On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Devotional

interior, Gothic cathedral, author photo

Stone—heavy, durable, hard to carve into blocks or statues. Part of a Gothic cathedral, though, it can soar to great heights, as well as form thin, decorative tracery around rose windows.

Chartres, one of three rose windows, author photo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Notre Dame de Paris, flying buttresses, author photo before the fire

Built all over Europe in the Middles Ages, these vast churches have defied wars, storms, and fires, as we’ve so recently seen with Notre Dame in Paris! Inside, its stone columns still run up and fan out to someday support a new vaulted ceiling. Outside, Notre Dame’s flying buttresses still arch back against the cathedral and will again, we hope, counter the outward thrust of a new roof.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, author photo

 

Thinner stone walls could hold huge windows of stained glass, opening up these cathedrals to a beautiful light that some have called heavenly.

The stained glass and statues helped generations of mostly illiterate people learn the story of redemption.

 

When Monet painted the Rouen cathedral series,

Rouen Cathedral, Facade and the Tour d’Albane, Gray Weather, Claude Monet, Rouen Museum

the cathedral had stood solidly in that same spot for over 700 years! So he was able to return after a year to finish the series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hay—light, perishable, blown to and fro by the wind. It grows for a season and is then easily cut and formed into a plump haystack to dry. Although necessary for feeding livestock, hay stacks don’t soar toward God or let in heavenly light to tell God’s story.

detail of haystack painting by Monet, author photo

They aren’t permanent either. Monet began his haystack series in the fall, but continued so long into the winter that the farmer needed the hay to feed his cattle! Monet had to pay the farmer to wait while he finished his paintings. 

Imagine that farmer walking away fingering the francs in his hand, but shaking his head over the strange ways of artists!

So if asked which has more spiritual worth, a cathedral or a haystack, most would choose the cathedral.

Yet in the summer of 1806 the prayers of five Williams College students did soar up out of a haystack to God and helped begin the American mission’s movement that sent 1000s of men and women to spread the gospel throughout the world. There had been recent Christian revivals in America under George Whitefield, Jonathan Edwards, and others, but up to this time, no one had considered taking the gospel to other parts of the world.

But Samuel Mills, a student at Williams College, had begun to pray about it. And on a Saturday afternoon in August he and four other students gathered in a field off campus to discuss and pray about missions to foreign lands. Williams College is in the postcard-pretty Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. Vibrant autumn foliage soon gives way to winter snows, so by August haystacks begin to dot those fields around the town and college.

That August Saturday in 1806 a thunderstorm rolled down out of the mountains and lightning crackled over the fields, sending the five students under a haystack for shelter. They continued praying, and the Haystack Prayer Meeting, as it came to be called, continued weekly after that.

Within just a few years, Mills, along with other students, had helped encourage the founding of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions which sent the first American missionaries to India in 1812. One of those, Adoniram Judson, was a friend of Mills from when they both attended Andover Theological Seminary. Mills also help found the American Bible Society and The United Foreign Missionary Society.

Monet made beautiful paintings of the fleeting, superficial changes that light brings to haystacks and cathedrals, but the objects aren’t really changed, and even stone cathedrals don’t last forever.

But when God’s light comes, it can even transform a haystack into a cathedral in which His heavenly light illumines and leads regular people, like college students and us, to take the gospel light to our neighbors, and around the world.

Then these people of God become temples of the Holy Spirit, and they will live forever!

Are there people in your neighborhood or others you keep in touch with who need to receive the light of the gospel?

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Molly is taking a much deserved break from photo shoots, but if you sign up for  Kathythepicturelady posts, you’ll soon see some of the funnier photos from her Molly-in-France series!

The next post will be an Impressionist-inspired kid’s art project for Mother’s Day. Don’t miss it!

 

 

Good Friday and Easter Paintings of the Isenheim Altarpiece

Like Notre Dame the Isenheim Altarpiece has been through many dangerous times since its creation in the 1500s, but it has survived to remind us of Christ’s death and resurrection!

On Good Friday and Easter we remember and celebrate that, “ . . .the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28.

 

In Grunewald’s crucifixion panel, darkness is the backdrop for one of the most moving crucifixions in all of Western Art. “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, ‘It is finished.’” John 19:30.  He then committed His spirit to His Father and died.

On the left Mary, who in the Christmas Picture,  looked with such love on her baby, now looks with anguish at her dead son. John and Mary Magdalen show the intense grief and shock that all the disciples must have felt. Is there any hope?

Yet, even in this darkest hour, Grunewald gives his viewers hope. On the right the artist has shown John the Baptist with a lamb at his feet and holding an open Bible as he points to Jesus.

Long before, when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, God had them choose a lamb to bring into their homes for 4 days.

Look at these parallels

  • John heralded Jesus’ coming when he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!” John, John 1:29. Jesus then preached and ministered among the Israelites for 3 or 4 years.
  • He entered Jerusalem on the day the Passover lambs were chosen, (Palm Sunday) and was crucified 4 days later.

On that original Passover the Israelites killed the lambs after the 4 days and put their blood on the doorposts and lintel of their homes so that when the angel of death passed through the land that night, he would Pass Over any home with the blood of a lamb over its doorway.

Each year Jewish people were to look back and reenact that event that freed them from earthly slavery, but God also meant for Passover to look ahead to Christ’s coming, when He, as the perfect Lamb of God, would give Himself for us, shedding His blood on the cross, so we can be freed from an even worse slavery–slavery to sin, and fear of death.

So John holds a Bible and points to Jesus to show that Jesus came to die according to God’s wise and loving plan. To further emphasize this truth, the lamb at his feet holds a cross.  Jesus gave Himself as the perfect and once and for all sacrifice for our sins, so we can be forgiven and reconciled to God.

“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”

  1. O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
    Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
    O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
    Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.
  2. What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
    Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
    Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
    Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.
  3. What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
    For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
    O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
    Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee

lyrics in public domain

Next we look under the crucifixion to a small scene showing the disciples preparing Jesus’ body for burial in a white shroud. There is no life in Him, and at the end of the day on Friday, His disciples buried Him. Again there seems to be no hope.

Then comes Sunday, Easter, and

In Grunewald’s final panel, we see a most beautiful and amazing resurrection scene. Jesus has risen in power and glory from the grave; the guards have fallen in fear and awe. They and the stone could not hold Him, and neither could death. His body, once so pale and marred by death, is now alive with warmth though His wounds still show.

The cold, white shroud of death has turned to warm reds, oranges, and yellows as Jesus rises from the grave. He has defeated Satan and death so that we can be saved to live forever with God.

Put down your burdens of sins, of regrets, of striving to be good enough, and accept the free gift of forgiveness and salvation that God longs to give you when you humble yourself to accept Christ. Hallelujah, He is risen! 

 

 

The two photos of paintings from the Isenheim Altarpiece were taken by the author.

The next kathythepicturelady post will be devotional to go along with my series on Monet’s cathedrals and haystacks.

Notre Dame de Paris After the Flames

If you’ve been following the news, you know that more of Notre Dame has survived than anyone could have hoped!  

The bell towers still stand, as does much of the outer shell, thanks to those flying buttresses built long ago by Medieval stonemasons and the heroic efforts of Paris’ firemen. What wonderful news!

Pray for the fireman who was injured.

One incredible video shows firemen looking into the nave and the undamaged cross on the altar shines brightly, while the stone walls still soar upward. Amazing!

Many Gothic churches have suffered as much or more damage in the past from fires, wars, and storms and have been rebuilt. In my recent  post about Rouen cathedral, I mentioned the devastation it received from bombing in WWII, and Chartre rose again from the flames way back in the late 1100s. President Macron has promised Notre Dame de Paris will be rebuilt! And hopefully millions of visitors and worshipers will again be able to enjoy this beautiful Gothic cathedral ads stand where we did in this photo from last fall.

It was a beautiful sight to see and hear so many French people singing and praying in the streets last night. It’s been inspiring to hear the media saying things like the true church isn’t the building (as beautiful as Notre Dame was) but the people who gather there to worship God.

Perhaps best of all have been all those who have talked about seeing this destruction and the coming rebuilding as a picture of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead that we will celebrate this coming Sunday.

Please revisit kathythepicturelady blog this Thursday to see a post about another French masterpiece that was endangered during the French Revolution, but now helps all who see it stand in awe of what Christ did for us on the cross and the wonder and miracle of His resurrection.

Notre Dame de Paris Before the Flames

I have been watching flames engulf Notre Dame today and as a Christian, an artist, and a teacher of Christian history, I am devastated!

The destruction of this beautiful, Gothic cathedral is an unbelievable loss to art and Christian and French history, and to Paris, France, and the world.

I saw Notre Dame de Paris in person for the first time last fall and loved every part of it from its steeple and  flying buttresses to its statues and stained glass windows. We explored the cathedral inside and out and went to a mass to hear the organ and see the church as it was meant to be–a house of worship.

We were in Paris a number of days and stayed so near Notre Dame that we passed it almost every day as we came and went to other churches and museums. I now recognize the places from which all the photos of the fire are being taken and I just can’t believe such destruction is happening to this 800 year-old, world-renowned Christian cathedral!

The steeple and the roof are gone. While we wait to know how much will survive, here are some photos we took that bring tears to my eyes but I still want to try to remember Notre Dame de Paris as this beautiful church.

Please pray with me that there will be no loss of life from this terrible fire and it will not spread to surrounding buildings!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Rouen

In the afternoon we tore ourselves away from Monet’s sunny garden to make our train connection to Rouen to see the cathedral that Monet painted so many times.

As we waited on the platform of the little train station, the weather changed. Wind brought clouds and the first rain of our trip. It continued to rain while we were in Rouen, a city on the Seine River not far from the Atlantic. I didn’t mind, though, as one of Monet’s cathedral views is in the rain, and he actually liked to try to capture the effects of rain and fog.

On this rainy Sunday few people were about, and no sun lit up the exterior of Rouen Cathedral or pierced through the stained glass that remains. It’s slim Gothic pillars still soar up to its high vault, and outside it wears its age with dignity and lacy beauty. And some parts of it are really old!

There has been a Christian church on the site of Rouen Cathedral since Roman times. Since then it has been partially destroyed by wars, fires, and storms many times, and just as often been rebuilt. The Vikings destroyed the early church and then rebuilt it when they settled the area.

 

The first (Viking/Norseman) Norman duke, Rollo, is buried under his effigy in the ambulatory.

Effigy of Rollo

For many, many years Rouen continued to be Norman/English land, and Richard the Lionheart’s heart is buried under his effigy next to his ancestor, Rollo.

Effigy of King Richard

 

 

 

 

The cathedral was rebuilt in the new Gothic style in the 12th century, but  fires and storms caused more rebuilding in the 13th century. Then in the 1400s, the façade was made over in the highly-decorative Flamboyant Gothic style, so that today the cathedral still looks like it’s wearing a garment of stony lace.

In WWII Rouen was a major supply depot for the Nazis, so the city and the cathedral were heavily bombed. The cathedral suffered several direct hits that caused much destruction. It was repaired, but in 1999 a storm toppled a huge pinnacle weighing many tons, which crashed through the roof and into the choir. When you look up you can still see the repaired place where it came through.

Today Rouen Cathedral is a mixture from all those times—some, like the North Tower, date back to the 1100s, while some stained glass and other sections are from the 1200s and 1400s. The middle spire or tower, made of iron, was installed in the 1800s, and, of course, repairs from WWII and the 1999 storm are even more recent.

Monet knew this cathedral well. He grew up in Normandy, a brother lived in the city, and it was just a short train ride from Giverny. As he thought about his next series, Rouen with its lacy exterior must have come readily to mind. He rented a room across the square from the cathedral and painted over 30 views of its façade over the next 2 years. Today a sign marks the spot from which he painted.

But as with every other subject Monet paints the light more than the cathedral. He studied how the cathedral changed with the sun’s angle and the weather. Some views show the sun rising behind the north tower. Others show the deep shadows produced by full sunlight. It’s an oblique view, although a few of the paintings are more face on.

The details of that lacy exterior would defeat most artists but Monet’s short, sketchy brush strokes give the cathedral a lacy texture just as his thick paint gave the haystacks a strawlike texture.

Rouen Cathedral, Facade and the Tour d’Albane, Gray Weather, Claude Monet, Rouen Museum

One of my favorites is the rainy day cathedral with its many tones of browns and creams. You can see the reflections on the wet cobblestones, just as we did.

When 20 of the paintings in this series went on sale, Georges Clemenceau, who later became France’s prime minister, was enthralled by them and bought one. He was a fan of Monet and wrote many admiring reviews of Monet’s work in his newspaper.

Activity

Find a permanent object or building outside that you can view for a week or so at all times of day and in different weather. Observe how light changes colors and shadows. Write down your obsevations or make sketches.

Molly is inspired and ready to paint!!

Are you signed up to receive the next Kathythe picturelady post? It will be an Easter post with more photos of the Isenheim altarpiece that I first showed at Christmas.

Later in April will be some devotional thoughts based on this whole Cathedrals and Haystacks series.

All photos in this post by the author

On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Giverny and the Haystack Series

Monet’s gardens at Giverny look like his paintings, with splashes of red and purple, dabs of blue, and whole patches of sunflower yellow everywhere you look. Some flowers tower over you, while others stretch out right into your face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A wide path with plant-covered arches leads to the front door of the pink farmhouse with its green shutters.

A sunny yellow dining room and blue delft tiles in the kitchen invite you to come in and explore.

 

 

 

 

To get to the lily pond, we crossed under the road and followed a wooded stream that helped form the pond. The stream didn’t have enough water for Monet’s plans, so he built ditches to divert more water from a nearby river. His neighbors worried that there’d be no water for their cows or that Monet’s imported water lilies might even poison them, so Monet had to get approval from the town council to complete his lily pond.

Weeping willows overhand the pond, and water lilies crowd each other for room to grow. Between rafts of water lilies, reflections of the willows and other trees and flowers catch the sunlight. The Japanese bridge is really there in among the willow branches!

We found spots that looked a lot like paintings we’d seen in Paris. Here’s one of those next to a water lily painting by Monet from the Marmottan! 

 

 

Walking along the stream to the pond, we passed a field where cows grazed, a field similar to where Monet painted his haystack series in the fall and winter of 1890. Some of the haystacks painted in the winter were Monet’s favorite. In the spring Monet exhibited 15 of the haystack paintings with great success.

He painted in the same field, so the composition in each of the haystack paintings is similar—one or two conical haystacks seen against the strong horizontals of trees and houses in the middle distance, with another horizontal line of hills in the far distance to form the horizon line with the sky above.

The far hills, the roof tops, and the haystack shadows often contain the same colors and so tie all the parts together. In some of the paintings, the top of the haystack is silhouetted against the sky, and in some (as in this view) the slanted roofs of the houses in the middle distance clearly echo the slant of the haystacks.

Grainstacks-Late Summer, Giverny by Claude Monet

In this painting I photographed at the Musee d’Orsay the summer sun warms the stacks and highlights their texture made with thick unblended brush strokes. As in his garden, Monet doesn’t want to tame his brushstrokes to make a formal picture of a haystack. His purpose is to show how light changes what the haystacks look like in all kinds of weather and light.

Grainstack detail

Activities

  1. Go online to study the shadows of some of these haystack paintings. Notice how their shapes and colors change with the weather and time of day. In one winter scene the orange sky contrasts vibrantly with the complementary blue of the cold shadowy snow on top of the stacks, on the roofs of the houses, and on the line of far hills. In some paintings the stacks are silhouetted against a golden sunset with just a few touches of bright outlining from the low setting sun.
  2. Cut out a small rectangular “window” from white paper and use it to concentrate on different areas of an Impressionist painting. Look at all the colors in a “green” field or a Renoir face. Feeling brave? Try painting what you see through the little window!
  3. Two great picture books about Monet’s garden: Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork, is a classic and mentions visiting the Marmottan. The Magical Garden of Claude Monet by Laurence Anholt has a foldout view of the gardens.

 

Sunflowers and blue Delft are favorites of Molly, too.Next Kathythepicturelady post is about Rouen and its cathedral that has survived over 700 years of wars and weather disasters. Be sure and sign up to receive these posts!

All photos in this post were taken by the author.