Welcome to The Helpful Art Teacher, an interdisciplinary website linking visual arts to math, social studies, science and language arts.

Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

Please click on my page to see my personal artwork and artist statement: http://thehelpfulartteacher.blogspot.com/p/the-art-of-rachel-wintembe.html

Please contact me at thehelpfulartteacher@gmail.com. I would love to hear from you.

Sunday, December 12, 2010


What is impressionism?

Click here for a very informative and detailed article about the impressionist art movement.

Claude Monet Houses of Parliament, Sunset 1904
Oil on canvas. 
Kunsthaus Zurich
To learn how Claude Monet painted his famous views of the Thames River click here


Go to the 'search this blog' box to the right of this post and type in 'impressionism', as shown in the picture above.

Look at the red words that appear above your search. If you choose 'Linked from here' or 'some useful links' you will find interesting  articles on the Impressionist art movement from museums all over the world.

 How does the impressionist art movement inspire contemporary artists?

Every evening in 2009 the NJ artist Mark Nolden took a photograph , exactly at twilight. For many months, wherever he was, he would excuse himself at sunset, step outside, and take a picture of the sky.

Look at Mark Nolden's photographs, particularly the two rectangular buildings that often reappear in picture after picture. Notice how the buildings change when the light changes.

Now let's look again at Monet's views of Parliament.

Here is a photograph of the view across the Thames River, as it looks today.

When Monet created these paintings there was quite a bit more pollution in the atmosphere. It was often hazy or foggy in London. Homes and factories were heated with coal and furnaces belched out black smoke during the Industrial Revolution.

This is what Monet saw:

For a more complete understanding of the atmospheric effects shown here in Monet's cityscapes, please read my posts  ATMOSPHERIC PERSPECTIVE and COLOR THEORY 101.

The Impressionists were the first group of artists to create paintings outside and then exhibit them.

 Of course artists have always sketched outside but, prior to the Impressionist Art Movement, they would always complete their work in their studios.

 Monet did not draw on these canvases before he began painting. His goal was to capture his impression of the light quickly, before it changed.


If you have a camera, even the camera on your cell phone, try creating your own 'study of light' photo essay.

 Take a picture every day of a building or view that you find beautiful or interesting. Pick a time of day (sunset, sunrise, afternoon) when the light is particularly beautiful.

Stand far away from the building or buildings. You must include the sky in your picture. If you are too close you will miss many of the atmospheric effects.

After a few months, compare your photographs. Do the colors change over time? Do the objects look different from photograph to photograph?

Does the building look different when it is cloudy outside? When it it sunny? When it is raining? Does the building look different at different times of the year?

If you have access to a photo editing program, like Adobe Photo Shop, try adjusting the hue, saturation and contrast in your photographs. See how many ways your can alter the image. Here is my photo essay:

Take photographs of the same image at different times of day and in different seasons.

 Adjust the image with Adobe Photshop. 
Try changing  the contrast, hue and  color saturation
Do not worry if your picture looks 'real'.

See how many ways you can alter the image


Photo Essay of Baptist Church, Scotch Plains New Jersey
By Rachel Wintemberg (The Helpful Art Teacher)

1 comment:

  1. What a fantastic blog post. I have just about completed an Impressionist topic with my Primary School aged students and the work the children have produced has been wonderful. I haven't put any up for display as I'm saving them for the School Art Show in late October and am sure that the Monet corner of the Art Show will be quite spectacular based on the completed work. I will put the photos in my blog when they are done.
    I have also included a link to a great resource provided by the National Gallery of Victoria which was used by children attending the Monet Winter Masterpiece Exhibition in Melbourne recently. I used this resource with my classes, who loved watching it on the huge projector screen in my Art Room. We watched one or two sections per session, depending on the length of them.