Our Monet inspired “Water Lily Pond” Paintings

Monet painted many water-lily paintings, but this one of his Japanese bridge across the water-lily pond inspired us!

A print of Monet's Water Lily Pond

We had a family visiting us for the week and some of them joined us for this enjoyable art activity.

Here are the steps we took:

First we looked at Monet’s Water Lily Pond in our book Impressionists by Juy Jennings and looked closely at the enlarged pictures of his water lilies in Joy Richardson’s Looking at Pictures An Introduction to Art For Young People.

We all drew a frame around a large A3 page in landscape.

We looked at the horizontal line where the pond ended and the background began.  We drew a horizontal line just under half way up the page. Above this and across the page we drew 3 curving lines in pencil for the bridge.

Some basic pencil lines for horizon and bridge

We used white oil pastels and, pressing heavily, drew over the bridge lines.  (These white lines will resist the water paint wash.)

Thick, heavy white oil pastel lines for the bridge

Now we used sponges and water-colour paint to paint the water and background trees.  We sponged the water in various blues and greens in horizontal strokes, while we sponged the background vertically in various greens and yellows.

Sponge painting the water and the trees

We used off-cut pieces of sponge with large, medium and small oval shapes to dab medium green craft paint (which is thicker and more opaque) for the lily leaves.  I encouraged them to paint large shapes in clusters at the bottom of the pond, where the lily leaves were closer,  and as the lily leaves appeared further away, we painted smaller leaves, until at the horizon line, the lily leaves were simple dots of green.

Dabbing lily pads leaves with oval-shaped sponges

Now we used paint brushes.  Monet painted a thin dark green shadow at the base of most his leaves and a highlight of light green across the top on many of his lily leaves.

Shadow lines under lily pads

With the lily leaves painted, we added details to the water.  We dabbed short strokes of darker blues and purples to create ripples and shadows. We used white to make dry brush strokes for the lilies, or with 3 short strokes, we painted the flowers between the lily leaves.

Lily flowers and purple and dark blue ripples in the pond

We now returned to the bridge.  We used white paint and painted over the oil pastel lines (which was slightly obscured by the paints) and then we added light blue for the shadows on the bridge.

Painting the bridge in white and light blue

We added details to the trees, adding dabs of darker greens, yellows and purples.

Adding details to the trees in the background

Finally, we added a few dots of pink to some of the lily flowers.

Our paintings were complete!

Here are the final works of art ~

Miss. L, 8 years old

Miss A, 9 years old

Mrs. G's lovely painting

My own painting

This art lesson was really enjoyable.  We took about an hour in total.  The lesson was easy to break into steps and stages.  I needed to remind everyone to look at the clusters of lily leaves.  Also, the younger children painted the lilies on top of the lily leaves and they needed to look carefully to see that the lilies were also in clusters and painted in between the leaves.  The dark shadows some people painted looked overwhelming at first, but with smaller, finer strokes of the same colour spread out in between the leaves, the shadows looked really good in the end.

My guest mommy thoroughly enjoyed having the time just to sit and paint.  Her greatest joy was that she did not have to copy the original painting – just paint her interpretation of it.  She was delighted to see how easy it seemed.

26 thoughts on “Our Monet inspired “Water Lily Pond” Paintings

  1. This is lovely! Is this all done with water colours, apart from the lily leaves? Or from that stage of the painting is the rest done with the same craft paint? I wondered if this is acrylic paint, or closer to poster paint? Hoping to attempt this soon! Thank you so much!


    • @Lizzie Chapman, We used acrylic paint for the lily leaves because they are thicker than water paints, but craft or poster paints will work as well. Enjoy your Monet art lesson!


      • Thank you so much for replying, Nadene! I wondered whether it was only the lily leaves that were acrylic, or were the rest of the details (e.g. the shadows, details on the trees and bridge, lilies) all done in acrylic? Sorry to be useless!


        • @Lizzie Chapman, we used watercolors to wash the background and used acrylic paints for the rest of the painting (the lily leaves, shadows and the bridge and its shadows) Hope this helps!


  2. What a great project! You mentioned it took an hour in total, did you break it up into two lessons? I was wondering if you were able to move straight into the lilies after painting the water and trees?


    • @Michelle, you could do this lesson in one sitting, waiting for areas to dry before painting details. Because much of the background and basic lily pads shapes are painted with sponges, it is really quick. Adding the details takes a little longer, but it is not a 2-day art activity.


  3. I hope you don’t mind me adding a comment to a thread from such a long time ago, but I wanted to let you know that my 8 year old son, who finds art really challenging as he has fine motor control issues, said that he had finally made a picture that he was pleased with! Thank you for the brilliant instructions. We really enjoyed our art session: a happy mummy, an 8 year old and a 6 year old.


  4. Pingback: Intimate Impressionism - Claude Monet | Harmony Fine ArtsHarmony Fine Arts

  5. I led this with my son’s class of 1st thru 3rd graders and they loved it. I have volunteered to attempt to teach art in their class since the school doesn’t have an art teacher. I was able to help the students create something they were proud of because of your wonderful instructions. My own son, who thinks he “can’t do art” said “This is the first art project I was able to do right!” Thank you!


  6. I have been doing a famous artist unit with my preschoolers for many years. Tonight I was looking for a pattern for water lilies and stumbled over your site. I’ve always struggled with my Monet project but you have given me new ideas about how to approach it. Thank you so much.


  7. Hi Nadene,

    I don’t comment often on blogs. However, I really wanted to THANK YOU for sharing your ideas, lessons, and most of all your passion for teaching with us. I do have to say how grateful I am for modern technology which allows someone from South Africa to help inspire someone all the way in VA. Thank you!


  8. Pingback: Claude Monet – French Painter – Impressionist – Artist

  9. Lovely! I have seen some Monet pond painting and they are very big and amazing. You stand in front of such a huge painting and it feels like you can see the world above the pond (not visible) in the reflection of the light and shadows on the water. You think you look at a pond with water lilies, but the longer you look, the more you see. You see the surroundings of the pond, the sky, the trees next to the pond, there is so much more than a pond with water-flowers.

    Do you know this book ‘Linnea in Monet’s Garden’ by Cristina Bjork? It is lovely.


    • So many people love Monet’s work! “Linnea in Monet’s Garden” is highly recommended and on many references, but, sadly, I haven’t read it yet …
      Thanks for your lovely comments Paula.


  10. Lovely project…Monet is always a favorite around here. I was just thinking that I haven’t seen you around Sketch Tuesday…are you taking a break? I always enjoyed seeing what you and your girls came up with for the weekly assignments.

    Hope to see you again soon.


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