Friday, September 16, 2016

Seen from a Distance

Seen from a Distance, the Art of Monet
by Seon-hye Jang; illus. by Jae-seon Ahn
36 pages; ages 7-10
Big & Small (Lerner), 2016

theme: art, biography, creativity

opening: It would be hard to draw a magnificent garden like this in a small sketchbook, wouldn't it? That's why Monet often painted on a very large canvas.

Sometimes Monet painted on canvases bigger than himself. Claude Monet loved to paint nature - the shapes and colors and shadows. He tried to show the effects of sunlight in his paintings, a hallmark of the artists we call "Impressionists".

This book is a field trip into Monet's paintings. You see a small detail and try to guess what it is: a cloud? smoke? No, it's part of a dress, of reflection in a pond. It's illustrated with Monet's art, as well as some line drawings of the children trying to guess what they're looking at.

What I like about this book: It presents Monet's work in a different light - and it is fun to guess what that detail is. I like the back matter that explains Impressionists and the changing colors of light. There's a cool comparison of two paintings of water lilies. It's a fun way to learn about an artist and his art.

Beyond the book: Go on a Monet field trip to an art museum or to this online gallery of Claude Monet's works. Look at the details and the light.

Become a light detective. Find a landscape or scene that you enjoy looking at. It could be a pond with lily pads, a footbridge over a stream, a garden of sunflowers, or even a grouping of trees and rocks. One day when you have a few hours, go early in the morning and watch how the light changes from sunrise to noon. Or visit the place at different times of the day. Write down your observations about light and shadow. If you have a camera, take photos.

Choose a favorite Monet painting. Find crayons or colored pencils of the colors in the painting. Now go create your own piece of art with Monet's colors.

This book is one in the Stories of Art series. Check out the others at the Lerner website.

 Today is PPBF (perfect picture book Friday), an event in which bloggers share great picture books at Susanna Leonard Hill's site. She keeps an ever-growing list of Perfect Picture Books. This is National Arts in Education week. Check out the previous posts this week for arts activities and book reviews.


  1. What a great way for kids to approach Monet's work! And I love the idea of being a "light detective"!

  2. Oh, I love your choice of books today. Two books about artists shared today. So kid-friendly. And, I love your suggested activities.

  3. Yes two books on different artists and such different approaches to art. I love this and the fact he paints landscapes. Great choice, thank you.