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Claude Monet

A small child stands facing us on a sun-dappled path that runs up the center of a garden dominated by towering yellow and burnt-orange sunflowers in this loosely painted, vertical scene. The light comes from our right so long, sea-green and plum-purple shadows cross the peach-colored path. The path is wide at the bottom center of the canvas and narrows as it reaches the steps of a house, beyond the garden. Close to us, four blue and white porcelain urns line the path, separating it from the grassy banks to either side. The urns are filled with tall stems with coral-pink and cardinal-red flowers. The child stands about halfway back along the path, where the garden transitions from grass to the banks of tall sunflowers. A few strokes in front of the child could be a small dog. Behind the child, a woman and another child stand on the steps. The woman wears a cornflower-blue and white dress, while both children have bare legs and wear white clothes and yellow hats. All three have indistinct facial features and peach-colored skin. The house spans with width of the composition. It has an amethyst-purple roofline with two chimneys, and the petal-pink walls have mango-yellow highlights. Windows are covered with blue latticework. Above the house, fluffy white clouds float against a vibrant blue sky. The artist signed and dated the painting at the lower right in dark blue, “Claude Monet 80.”

Claude Monet, The Artist's Garden at Vétheuil, 1881, oil on canvas, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection, 1970.17.45

Claude Monet loved art and nature. He combined those two loves by planting colorful gardens  wherever he lived and then painting them. Monet carefully planned his gardens to be beautiful and different in every season, and he painted many different versions of his gardens. 


What is one word you would use to describe this painting?

What season of the year might it be? What do you see that makes you say that?

Follow the path through the painting with your eyes. What is in the front or foreground, closest to you? The middle ground? The background?

Imagine you are inside this scene. What would it feel like to be there? What would you do first? 


Gardeners-Surprise copy

The Gardener’s Surprise (Spanish language version: La sorpresa del jardinero)

by Carla Balzaretti and Sonja Wimmer

Andrew loves flowers and is thrilled when he has the opportunity to tend a large garden and to pursue his passion.


The Green Fingers of Monsieur Monet

by Giancarlo Ascari and Pia Valentinis

This books tells the story of Monet and his garden, which he later painted in many artworks. 

MAKE: Draw a garden

You will need:

  • Pencil
  • Oil pastels
  • White paper

Like Claude Monet, you will need to plan your garden before you can draw it! You will also need to decide what time of day and season of the year it will be in your garden scene. What colors would you use to show a morning sky, or the garden in autumn? Will you make a path through your garden? Where might it lead?

Next, use oil pastels to fill your garden with color. Working with one color at a time, add flowers to the garden. Then fill in around the flowers with stems and leaves. Try layering and blending your colors to see what happens!


  • inspiration
  • pastel
  • scene

Art Tales: Coloring and Cut-Outs booklet (PDF, 3.5 MB)

Art Tales for Pre-K (PDF, 7.2 MB)

Primeros Pasos En El Arte (PDF, 7.5 MB)

Primeros Pasos En El Arte: Colorear y Recortes (PDF, 3.7 MB)

Monet's Waterscapes lesson plan

An Eye for Art: Claude Monet teaching resource (PDF, 9.4 MB)

Register for the Art Tales pre-K school tour

Send images of your students' projects that follow these activities - email [email protected]