Claude Monet
"The Rocks of Belle-Ile"

The main target of this teaching unit is to explore the aerial and color perception, inspired by Monet's picture "The Rocks of Belle-Ile". Basically, it is about the depth perception of a picture.

Further material for this article.

Claude Monet - "The Rocks of Belle-Ile"

The new material pack Claude Monet: "The Rocks of Belle-Ile" for your art class.

Original artwork of a student

Artistic painting with the Pelikan paintbox K12

In this issue of Pelikan K12 - The Original, we would like to present you an exclusive idea for working with the Pelikan paintbox in your next art class. Hereby, the attention is focused on the artworks of the famous artist Claude Monet.

You will need:
The paintbox K12 (mostly the colors black and opaque white), a bristle paint brush (size 8-12), a sketch block, a pair of scissors and some glue.

Course of the Teaching Unit Claude Monet: "The Rocks of Belle-Ile"

The main target of this teaching unit is to explore the aerial and color perception, inspired by Monet's picture "The Rocks of Belle-Ile". Basically, it is about the depth perception of a picture. As can be seen clearly in Monet's painting, the contrasts of the aerial perspective fade, the farther you go back in the picture. From the front towards the background, the colors increasingly become lighter. At the same time, the sense of depth in Monet's picture grows, due to the high and low contrasts. The defined contours, in this case the rough rock cliffs, are clearly visible. The farther you go back in the picture, the lighter the outlines become and consequently intensify the spacial perception This kind of depth effect can be analyzed by primary children, as well. The following teaching unit will show you, with what simple means in can be made possible.

It's as easy as this:


  1. Download the material pack "Claude Monet: The Rocks of Belle-Ile from the internet.
  2. Print out the templates.

The template "triangles" can be used for getting started in class.

  1. Aerial perspective:

    As a conversational gambit, it might help to let the students compare the two triangle pictures with each other. Both pictures show the same composition of triangles. However, in the first picture, all of the triangles are colored black (left). An aerial perspective cannot be recognized here. Only in the second picture, where the triangles are colored in different shades of grey, the composition leaves an aerial perspective (right). As an exercise, you can paint this picture with your students or, if you like, you can download our templates and use the triangles as demonstration material by placing the "mountains" anew with your students.

  2. High/low contrast:

    As in the picture by Monet, high and low contrast contribute to an intense areal perception. This "technique" can also be taught to children in a very easy way. Our "castle" image might help you to do so. It is made of single strips of paper that are colored in different shades of grey.

Template "Castle"
  • The bold outlines of the castle are in the front. In the valley, you can even see smaller hills. However, the hills in the background are kept almost even-leveled – this way, a strongly areal perceptance of the landscape has been created. Additionally, the colors fade gradually towards the background of the picture, which creates an even more vivid effect. For a better understanding of our case, we disassembled the image of the castle into its individual parts:

    The picture of the castle can be built together from single picture elements, however, these parts have to be painted in different shades of grey, beforehand.
  • After all the theory, of course, the children should be allowed to work on their own pictures. There are different ways to proceed here:
    1. The children start by experimenting freely with the colors black and white, their sketch block and a pair of scissors.
    2. Make sure the children mind not to overpaint the lighter shade of grey completely. they paint another layer of grey paint in the background, using a darker shade this time. Make sure the children mind not to overpaint the lighter shade of grey completely.
    3. You can create a picture of a scenery at night by first painting the background completely in black. Then cut out animals that are grey or paint them grey and glue them onto the black background.

      The background of this picture here is kept in black and an elephant and some hillocks were glued in the front of the picture.
    4. Alternatively to point b, the children can paint different strips of paper in different shades of grey and glue one above the other after the paint is dry. With black paint and opaque white, you can mix e. g. the following shades of grey:

You can mix different shades of grey out of black and opaque white.


Tip: It is important to give clear instructions! So, make sure you choose the way that suits you best and combine the materials as you like.


Possibilities of Differentiation

The triangles provide a great solution for getting started in class - for demonstration purposes or if you would like to let the children recompose the picture. You can either make the triangles on your own, or you can use our template. Alternatively, you can just as well use the finished grey triangles, which we also offer:

The templates for the triangle picture only need to be colored or cut out.

For the high/low contrast of the castle picture, we offer you different versions, in order to fit the exercise to your requirements. The first template shows the complete motive, the second one only the outlines of the motive and the other templates provide the cuttings, which can be used or processed individually:

Template 1: Complete picture of the castle

Template 2: Outlines of the castle picture

Further templates: The individual parts act as differentiation methods. Altogether, they make the castle picture. (see template 1)

As already seen, different shades of grey in a row offer various design opportunities. However, it is also possible to create a spacial perception in a colored design. The same techniques as in Monet's picture can be used: 1. Let the colors fade towards the background. 2. The outlines are more defined in the front than in the back. However, a combination of the two techniques seems imagninable, as well. In our example, we created a version of the castle picture made of different shades of green. The spacial perception is the same one like in the black&white version:

Spacial perception can also be gained when using other colors that become lighter towards the background. An additional perception unfolds from the high and low contrast.

Works of students as demonstration material

The individual shapes add a personalized character to every picture. Clearly, it is not about getting "the right" design. The artworks reflect the children's experimental approach in exploring the field of aerial and color perspective within the scope of their possibilities. While reflecting on the results of the project, the gained knowledge can lead to a detailed examination of the subject.

Claude Monet 1840-1926, Overview

  • 1840 Claude Monet was born November 14th, 1840 in Paris by Louise Justine Aubrée. His father was the grocer Claude Adolphe Monet.
  • 1845 Due to the father's bad economic situation, the family moved to Le Havre.
  • 1851-1857 Monet went to a secondary school in Le Havre and began drawing caricatures of other students and teachers. He started to sell them all around the city. His caricatures were exhibited in the shop window of a local store for picture frames. There, he got to know the painter Boudin, who had been exhibiting lakeland areas there. He gave Monet the advice, not to be satisfied with drawing, caricatures only. He should try to draw lakelands.
  • 1857 Monet creates his first painting of a landscape and he decides to become a painter. At that point of time, Monet entered the school of arts Académie Suisse, which disapproved of idealized landscape pictures and preferred the realistic style instead.
  • 1861 Monet joins the military, however, comes down with typhus one year later and thereupon returns to Le Havre. His everyday life with his future competitors consists of staging exhibitions and thereby obtaining acceptance in the Paris Salon. However, by reason of financial distress, Monet lives in poverty with his family.
  • 1879 Monet's wife Camille dies. Meanwhile, Monet's painting evolved to an own form of Avantgarde art.
  • 1883 Monet can already make such a good living from his art that he moves to Ginverny in 1883 and buys the house there.
  • 1870-1891 In the meantime, Monet stages exhibitions with famous pictures, like e.g. with the poplars along the Seine, and is highly celebrated. Around the turn of the century, more and more pictures of water lilies with a Japanese wooden bridge become his trademark, which he paints using his own pond in his garden in Giverny as a model.
  • 1916 Monet begins with his greatest masterpiece, the wallpainting with the water lilies. In the 1920s, his eyesight worsens significantly and he has to undergo several surgeries. Monet finishes his water liliy painting shortly before his death. Today, he is probably considered the most famous impressionist.
  • 1926 Claude Monet dies December 5, 1926.