More Marvelous Berthe Morisot Art Appreciation

This week we continued our appreciation of Berthe Morisot and studied


Woman Sewing In Her Garden

We had already looked at some of her works in our art book and I had prepared some outline tracings for our lessons.

Here’s your free pdf download: Berthe Morisot Woman Sewing Outline

It was a toss-up between “The Butterfly Catchers”  and “Woman Sewing in her Garden”  the first lesson.  I let the kids chose.  “Butterfly Catchers” won the toss!  So this week we looked forward to really getting into this painting.

The lovely young lady sewing in her garden looked so serene.  Like “The Butterfly Catchers”,  Ms. Morisot’s colour palette was mostly grey and green.  Her paint style seemed very loose and “messy”.  She used a lot of white paint over her underlying colours.

With this in mind, I thought we should use white acrylic paint over our completed water painted pictures.  

But I get ahead of myself.  Let me start at the beginning:

  • First we looked at the work carefully.  I asked the kids to identify details, features, shapes and basic colours in the painting.
  • Then we colour washed the entire background in green.  A colour wash is watery paint spread thinly over the page with a flat, wide bristled brush.  Now we no longer have a “scary” blank white page!
  • With different shades of dark, medium and light greens, some mixed with a tiny bit of black, other greens mixed with white, we dabbed the leaves and plants.  We tried to leave gaps white where we wanted the roses.
  • Then we painted the woman.  She wore a pale pink dress with grey greens on her sleeve.  We painted the shadows on her face, painted her hair and details of her face.  Then we painted her sewing and basket.  Lastly we painted the bench.
  • Once most of the colours dried, we added details like roses, folds of her dress and sewing and highlighted in pure white acrylic paint.  This gave the feel of oil painting and when dabbed on a fairly loose, free way,  it gave the painting its Berthe Morisot feel!

And here are our paintings:

Surprisingly, my 11-year-old’s discussion with me after she completed her work was,

“Please, Mom, don’t put up this painting on our gallery.” (We hang our art on a large cupboard in the kitchen.)

“Why?”  I asked, “Don’t you like it?”

“No.  It isn’t really pretty.”

“Well, that’s fine, darling.  We’ll let it dry and just put it in your note file.”

After the paintings dried, I wanted to punch the holes and looked at the work again and really liked them!  I told Miss. K this and she also reviewed the work and agreed that they were “fine”.

“So does that mean you are happy to put it up in our gallery?” I asked.


“And on the blog?”  (I always ask my children if I may share their work before I write a post.)

“Yes.  It’s fine.”

What happened? 

Well, the actual painting process was not too hard, but it was not Miss. K’s style.  It left her feeling uncomfortable.  Too messy.  Not enough details and control. 

She needed time to distance herself from the process and the final product.  After a few hours, it didn’t seem as bad as she felt. 

Art is emotional.  Subjective.  Personal.

Often art is difficult.  Often there are challenges and difficulties.  One has to work through new techniques, different mediums, uncomfortable topics or themes … Immature hands can’t always manage the tools of art.  Students in class often want to give up when they can’t “get it right”.  My own children have cried in art lessons.  Sigh. 

But art appreciation is not about the outcome of art work.  One does not have to do any art. 

I try to keep our art appreciation lessons light.  No pressure to perform.

The emphasis of art appreciation is on each person’s internal working and identification with the master’s art. 

May you and your family enjoy your art appreciation lessons.


10 thoughts on “More Marvelous Berthe Morisot Art Appreciation

  1. Loved your blog and ideas but the link to the line drawing is not working. Also tried to copy and past the address from the top of the blog, but that ended with an ‘error-can’t find’ message as well. Can you please check this out?


  2. I love your art!! Are you using watercolours or acrylic for the main painting? I know it is white acrylic for the end, but what about the main part? Thanks!


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  4. Just found this through Hundred Acre Wood blog – referenced for Classical Conversations. This was a very fun afternoon art study with my girls. Thanks so much for sharing!


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  6. Thank you for your generosity! It’s a great gift to be able to use these resources for free, and I trust the Lord rewards you for your open arms. I have five girls, and this year my third daughter enters the education mix, too. The past several years have been slipshod in parts as I pull together bits and pieces of Charlotte Mason’s approach in the framework of the classical Trivium model, and most often art instruction, art history, and composer studies fell by the wayside. I’ve always had a great interest (but severely defunct education) in these areas, so I determined that THIS year it’s imperative that we learn and enjoy together, even (especially?) if it entails setting math aside for the day. 🙂 I’ve felt unequal to the task, and your resources have given me much-needed “bones” on which to hang our lessons.


  7. I love your blog and your committment! Can you tell me what you use as the base for your program? I really want to do something a little more organized this year.


    • @Krista, I based my whole program around our own book called Impressionist Painters and chose the most famous and my favorite artists, one artist for each month. Then I looked online for additional ideas and activities or just made up my own. Simply Charlotte Mason has some very helpful advice on how to do your art studies the CM way. Many CM homeschoolers follow Ambleside Online’s artist schedule. Hope this gives you a good start!


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