Impressionist painting

Impressionist painting

Learn how the Impressionists approached painting and see how our group got on in a workshop led by artist, John Wiltshire filmed at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge.

The activity has five videos outlining the steps to producing an Impressionist style painting using acrylic paint on a canvas ground.

Key Stage:

KS 2&3 Art and Design


The five films show how the group we worked with created an impressionist style painting in acrylic or oil paint. This lesson plan can be used:
To start a painting project.
To develop ideas and understanding of processes and materials.
As part of study of the work of the artist Claude Monet.
As part of study of any artist in the Impressionist movement.
As part of individual study.


The artist asks the group to choose a Claude Monet painting to analyse and reproduce.

Starting canvas

Add a colour ground to your bright white canvas to make it easier for you to create your painting. Then do a rough outline in pencil of the proportions of your subject.


Use a limited palette of five colours. This workshop uses acrylic paints but the same rules would apply with oils. With bold brushstrokes begin to block out areas of your painting.

Using colour

The artist introduces the colour wheel and the idea of contrasting colours. Work quickly and be bold.

End product

Evaluate, share and discuss what you have learnt.

Development Activity:

Elsewhere on CultureStreet you can find out more about the Impressionist collection at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge including a film made by the group featured in the workshop.
The Fitzwilliam Museum
The Fitzwilliam also have in their collection a sculpture by the Impressionist artist Edgar Degas of a Horse Walking.
The Horse Walking by Edgar Degas

Learning Objectives:

Pupils should increase their proficiency in the handling of different materials.
In addition students can gain knowledge and understanding of the work and approaches of artists, craftspeople or designers from contemporary and/or historical contexts, periods, societies and cultures.
Students can refine their ideas as work progresses through experimenting with media, materials, techniques and process.

Research, Notes and Links:

Download this lesson plan