Artist Study–Edouard Manet

Last year the subject of art didn’t receive a lot of attention.  Sure we did projects here and there.  Sister even participated, for a time, in an actual art class.  But the hassle of pulling out art supplies when there was already so much baby paraphernalia around just didn’t appeal to me and consequently, art fell by the wayside despite good intentions. 

This year I’m trying to be more intentional because the kids love art.  They like learning about the artists and talking about the paintings and they love the doing of art.  Since I have much less time to plan elaborate projects, this year we are working from the book, Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters by MaryAnn F. Kohl and Kim Solga.  The idea of this book captured me as soon as I saw it.  The authors provide a bit of background on a given artist and then present a simple project in the style of that artist.  Such artistic styles as Renaissance, Romantic, Impressionist, Abstract, and Surrealist are represented along with a number of others and introduced, basically, in order of their occurrence in history.  We will tackle a new artist and project every third week and at this rate there is more than enough material for three school years worth of study.  Woohoo!  Art planning done for the next 3 years. 

This week we discovered Edouard Manet ~ our first in a series of impressionists.  (The book doesn’t begin with the impressionists, in fact it’s chronological from the 1300’s forward, but the advent of Impressionism better matched where we are in history so I chose to start there.)  Early in the week we talked about Manet himself and looked at a few of his paintings online.  The Google Art Project is awesome for this sort of thing because you can zoom in on many of the paintings and really get a sense of brushstrokes and color.  The two we looked at were  In the Conservatory  and The House at Rueil.

To see a greater variety of Manet artwork we looked here; focusing especially on his still life paintings since that is what our project would be based on.

Today was the day for actual artwork:  Still-Life in Melted Crayon.  Do to the “melted” nature of this project I chose to wait until the Littles were sleeping before proceeding though in the future I plan to include them as much as possible.

First I set up some still-life arrangements – (Actually, the first thing I did is cover my table in plastic.)


Unfortunately, real fruit was not available today.  Many thanks to Dora who let me raid her play kitchen for replacements.


Classic “Puppy on books” arrangement.  What’s that you say?  It’s not a classic?  Hmm, you’re probably not a “Dogs Playing Poker” fan either.


Next, we broke crayons into a muffin tin and placed them in the oven to melt. (The book said to use old broken crayons but we already used all ours up this summer on a different project so I got a new box of 24.)  It made waaay more paint than we actually needed so afterwards we let it cool and will store it away for another day. For painting rocks, perhaps?


Fortunately, we had 12 (one for each color) cheap brushes from watercolor kits long since used up.  If you don’t have this many then q-tips would make a good substitute.


Whatever you use be prepared to throw it out afterward or save it to do this project again.  They won’t be good for much else.


We practiced our technique on plain paper before starting our actual paintings.  I recommend using a heavyweight paper because I noticed later that the test papers began to curl.  Oh, one more thing – that’s an electric griddle in the front there.  We covered it with foil and placed our muffin tin on it to keep the wax melted while we worked.

The results:


Brother’s Puppy


Sister’s Puppy


Sister’s Fruit Basket


and my attempt.

Our favorite part about this was the textures it produced.  So fun to feel the paintings once they cooled.

Let me know if you try this.  I’d love to see how it turns out!


2 thoughts on “Artist Study–Edouard Manet

  1. That’s neat! Sometimes I wish I had more than one kid at home… having only one really bites for projects like this because it feels like so much more effort for a smaller product. Must get over that feeling…

  2. Pingback: This Simple Life » Blog Archive » Artist Study ~ Claude Monet

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