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Portrait of an Artist: Claude Monet

Portrait of an Artist: Claude Monet

Lucy Brownridge
Wide Eyed Editions
ISBN: 9780711248762

Claude Monet is one of a series of books published by Quarto focused on famous artists. This book delivers exactly what it says in its title. A portrait of the life of Claude Monet; one of the world's best loved painters. The book tells the story of Monet, prominent milestones during his career, and what inspired him to create some of his most famous masterpieces

Young readers will learn about Claude's start in life; from painting charcoal caricatures of his friends, to moving to the big city of Paris in a bid to find his fortune, and possibly, more valuable than this, finding friendship and developing his passion for painting light and water.

One of my favourite parts of this story is that we learn the names of those individuals who supported Monet in his ventures, shaped his life's work and worked alongside him, creating the impressionist movement. For example, Eugene Boudin who spent all summer teaching Claude to use 'serious tricky materials like oil paint' and Camille Pissaro who shared Claude's passion for painting the changing seasons and all its colours. We also read about Camille Doncieux, Monet's best friend and wife who inspired him and gave him lots ideas of where he could paint her in the beautiful outdoors.

Each double-page spread of this book is beaming with colour, pitched perfectly, with just the right amount of detail for the young reader to devour. I love that the facial expressions in the illustrations are clear to read for younger children and a great accompaniment to the text on each page. As well as the bold artwork, a Monet masterpiece is featured of every spread and at the back of the book there is also a closer look at ten of Monet's key pieces, including a brief paragraph of information about the painting and the inspiration behind it.

If like me, art is not your strong point in primary teaching and you are not familiar with the life and works of artists, these books are a great resource to use in the classroom. I learnt a great deal from reading this book and I now feel better equipped with the confidence to share this information with the children. I want to encourage a love of art in the children in spite of my lack of expertise in this area.

The books in this series are a great first look at artists for both key stages 1 and 2. I plan to use this text as an entry point to look at the work of Monet and his invention of Impressionism. The last three pages would work well photocopied and enlarged for children to explore with talk partners. I would ask the children to begin by sharing their thoughts on each of the paintings, what they like/don't like, being able to evaluate and analyse each painting using the language of art, craft and design as per the NC programme of study requirements.

The books in this series are fun, engaging and informative. I am now quite excited to get back into the classroom and 'teach' art!

32 pages / Ages 6-10 years / Reviewed by Nikki Stiles, teacher


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