Art History Lesson for Children Realism and Impressionism
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Art History Lesson for Children Realism and Impressionism

Art history lessons, realism and impressionism. Integrate these lessons into home school or public school classroom.

Teaching your child about art and art history will contribute to a well rounded education.  It is easy to integrate these lessons into a home school or public school classroom.

Realism is a movement in art that begins around 1850 and continued on into the period of impressionism until about 1870. The two periods overlap and impressionism is an artistic response to realism.

Artists who painted in the realist style wanted to show real everyday life. They wanted to paint in a style that showed things and people as they really were. They showed people eating dinner, working in the fields, going to funerals and other everyday activities.

If you were going to paint a picture of everyday life today what would your picture look like? What would you paint?  

 This picture of the Stone Breakers by Gustave Courbet is an example of realism. Picture downloaded from Wikimedia Commons 

Impressionism is a style of painting or movement that covered the period from about 1860 to 1900. The impressionist were mostly concerned with just leaving an impression and less concerned about the detail or reality of what they were painting. The other issue that they were concerned with was light. They wanted to paint the natural light and atmosphere at whatever time of day they were painting. They were true painters of light. They used natural colors and blended their colors optically by painting dabs of various clear colors very close together so that when you look at them they blend visually to appear as one color. For instance if an impressionist wanted to paint a purple flower, instead of actually mixing blue and red on his palette to make purple, the artist would put a dab of blue next to a dab of red so that when the viewer stands back and away from the painting he sees purple. Impressionist paintings are best viewed from a distance.


Try mixing colors optically. Cut several small squares of white illustration board or poster board each about 4 X 4. Get out your paint, markers or crayons. Select two colors and dab or dot the two colors on the card covering the entire card. It’s ok if you overlap them a bit. Prop the card upright and step back to look at the cards.

George Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grande Jatte is an example of optically mixing color.

This picture was downloaded from Wikipedia

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