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Year 2 Visual Arts

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A World of Colour: Claude Monet's 'Beach at Trouville'

monet's beach at trouville
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See a larger version of this activity here.


Have you learned about 'warm' and 'cool' colours in the Year 1 activity? We learned how some colours seem 'warm', such as yellow and red, while others - like blue and green - seem 'cool'?

Do you have a favourite colour? Let's look at colour in a painting by French artist Claude Monet [MON-ay]. Monet loved colour and was fascinated by how changing light conditions alter the way colours look. Let's look at his painting Beach at Trouville.

What do you think the weather was like the day Monet painted his Beach at Trouville? How can you tell the sun was bright but that it wasn't very warm? How can you tell it was windy? The women are wearing heavy dresses and hats but they also hold parasols to keep the sun off their faces. The younger lady (the one on your left) seems to need two hands to hold on to her parasol. In the distance flags are flapping, and the clouds are broken and diagonal in places, chopped by the wind.

The colours are mostly pale, as if lightened by strong sunlight. Monet became famous for doing so many of his paintings outside. We know he made this one on the windy beach shown because tiny grains of sand and chips of shell were blown into the wet paint and are still stuck there!

What is the first colour you notice in Monet's painting? Do you see how he was not worried about giving each object a sharp outline? When you draw, I expect you usually start with an outline, but Monet worked in patches of colour instead. Look at the pale-coloured dress of the younger lady. It is made up from thick, rough stripes of buttery-like paint.

Monet has chosen to paint the patches of colour and light as he saw them, rather than to paint the details and texture of the dress and its fabric. Similarly her flowered hat, when you look closely, is simply daubs of contrasting brightly coloured paint and seems almost blurred. It is only when you look at the picture as a whole that these stripes and dabs of coloured paint come together to create an impression of smartly dressed women at a bright and breezy beach. Monet actually used this word 'impression' (which is the same in French and English) as a title for one his paintings. This led to him being known as the first 'Impressionist'.



This activity is adapted from pages 184 and 185 of What Your Year 2 Child Needs to Know, which can be purchased here.

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