Secret Garden: Monet Comes to Vancouver

When was the last time you visited an art gallery or museum? Took in a cultural experience? Like hearing your favourite musician live transcends hearing a recording, the opportunity to view art in person goes beyond viewing it online or in a book.

The name Monet is synonymous with art for many, and more specifically Impressionist Art. It’s hard to imagine a world without his iconic water lilies paintings, but there is more to the works of Monet than many are familiar with. From June 22- October 1 this year, The Vancouver Art Gallery, in collaboration with the Musee Marmottan Monet, presents Claude Monet’s Secret Garden, a selection of 38 paintings produced by the artist at his home in Giverny, France, spanning his 60- year career and includes his final piece, Les Roses produced in 1925/ 26.

What makes this collection of works interesting- beyond the simple fact that it’s a chance to witness Monet’s work in person- is that these are all pieces from Monet’s personal collection, works he chose not to sell (the Musee Marmottan Monet is home to the largest collection of Monet’s works and is where these pieces usually reside). The paintings on display range from works produced in his early career, before arriving at his home in Giverny, through to the end of his career, when he produced the infamous water lily paintings, among others featuring his beloved gardens.

  While we may have an appreciation for his work now, at the time he produced many of his famous pieces- including those featuring the infamous water lilies- no other artists of his time were producing works that depicted reflection the way he did (Monet only sold one of his water lilies paintings during his lifetime). This is a good reminder that it isn’t always just the painting itself that has to be considered to appreciate it, but also the period in which it was produced, what was common practice/ accepted at the time, and even the style/ focus of the work. All of these are factors that can help us understand why a specific artist and works of art are significant, why art goes beyond just being a pretty picture. 

  Monet’s work may be appreciated by many around the world now, but at the time his work was revolutionary. In case you need any more convincing to visit the Monet exhibit, here are a few more facts about the artist himself and why his pieces have gained the fame they have:

  • The focus of his paintings was light itself and how it behaved (such as at different times of day, on snow, on water, etc)

  • Because Monet wanted to capture the light at a certain time of day in outdoor settings, he had to work quickly, and his brushstrokes are clearly visible
  • By the 1880’s Monet came to the belief that one canvas wasn’t enough to capture what he wanted to convey (ie the changing light), so he would produce similar works featuring the same landscape, etc that demonstrated the change in light and how it behaved (see the two paintings below as examples)

  • His pieces feature clear/ bright colours- the colours of his paintings had not been seen before, as Monet chose to paint outside, rather than inside by candlelight (sand can be found in the paint of some of his pieces from painting outside)
  • No other artist of his time depicted reflection the way Monet did (like that seen in his water lilies and other works)- these paintings don’t have a horizon, instead it’s implied by the reflection in the water
  • In 1883 Monet and his family moved to a 90- acre property where he cultivated gardens and water gardens- his gardens are featured in 250 of his paintings, including wisteria, roses, willow trees, and the famous water lilies

  • His water lilies pieces were not shown to the public during his lifetime as he didn’t want to have to explain them to a contemporary public who didn’t understand his work
  • The invention of the train and train bridge were critical to Impressionist period artists as it allowed them to travel around France and paint in locations previously challenging to visit
  • For outdoor paintings, Monet would use smaller canvases as they were more practical to paint on to capture the light at the time he was painting; for large- scale pieces like the water lilies, Monet constructed a large studio to work indoors
  • Towards the end of his career, his pieces bordered more on an abstract style of painting (like those seen more after WW2)

If you are looking for activities to do this Summer, a visit to the Monet exhibit won’t disappoint. If anything it’s a bit of a surreal experience to be in the presence of such art, to see the individual brushstrokes up close. Whether you follow art closely or just have a general interest, this is an opportunity to witness works by an iconic artist s in person and enjoy a cultural experience. Details about the Claude Monet’s Secret Garden exhibit below.

Exhibit Details:

Runs from June 22- October 1, 2017

Location: Vancouver Art Gallery

Tickets: Adult- $24 | Senior (65+)- $20 | Kids 6- 12- $6.50 |

Kids 5 & under- Free

Enjoy visiting the Vancouver Art Gallery by donation on Tuesday evenings from 5- 9pm

Wooden Easter Egg DIY with Natural Earth Paint

A few weeks back I shared this post featuring Natural Earth Paint and their Petite Children’s Earth Paint Kit. We had a fun, messy, art- filled afternoon trying out their natural, non- toxic, & eco- friendly paints and I’m glad to have found a company that offers quality art supplies that are chemical free (I love DIY & artsy activities, but don’t want to worry about what’s in the products being used, especially with a toddler who inevitably will end up with her fingers in her mouth 😉 ). 
With Easter just around the corner I wanted to share a fun DIY that’s a twist on a classic: dying eggs. 
We’re all familiar with the dye kits you can get at the grocery store complete with vibrant dye pellets. Growing up, it was something I always looked forward to at Easter time, and I remember my Mum trying different tactics to make the eggs last more than a day; we usually hard- boiled them, and one year we even hollowed some raw eggs with a needle. But sadly eggs only stay good for a few days before you have to chuck ’em out, and I was always sad to see my Easter project go in the garbage (inevitably the fragile hollowed- out eggs suffered the same fate, since they were so delicate and got cracked). Plus I’m not sure about what goes into those dyes, and I’m not too excited about how they stain fingers, clothes, and any unprotected surfaces. Since this is Ari’s first Easter where she’ll be able to enjoy some of the crafts and Easter egg hunts, I wanted to find a toddler- friendly DIY we could enjoy that wouldn’t end up in the trash. Enter wooden Easter eggs!  
Natural Earth Paint offers a kit including 6 2″ wooden eggs plus 6 colours of Earth Paint (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, & white) that you can decorate and keep long after Easter is over (I think they’d also make cute Christmas tree decorations, just add a string/ ribbon). I thought this was a fun alternative to the traditional dye kits, and since they’re wood you don’t have to worry about little hands having to be fragile with them.

Here’s what the wooden egg kit looks like:

I couldn’t wait to have another artsy afternoon with Ari and make a big mess. For the paints, I mixed them up in a cupcake container so they wouldn’t spill as easily (plus it worked as a place to chorale the eggs & for drying after), popped some paint brushes on the table and let them at it (to see what the paint colours look like before and after mixing them up, check out my post featuring the Petitie Children’s Paint Kit here). 
I invited one of my girlfriends over with her little man to join in the fun and it was hilarious helping these two bumpkins decorate their first Easter eggs.We opted to let the kids paint in just their diapers to avoid any extra messes and since paint got everywhere this was a good decision (Ari decided her tummy was an excellent canvas 😉 ).  
Let the fun begin!
 

Easter fun in progress!

…And the finished product!

When the kids were finished with painting, the clean up was as simple as wiping everything down with soap and warm water, no staining and no scrubbing necessary (except for Ari who needed a post- DIY bath to wash her now- blue belly button!). I love that we’ll have these eggs for as long as we want to keep them, and can redecorate them every year if we want. It will also be cute to see how Ari decorates them each year as she grows up. If you’ve been looking for a fun Easter DIY to do with your kids, this kit is a great idea. Thank you to Natural Earth Paint for giving us two enjoyable afternoons filled with artsy, DIY fun! 

Natural Earth Paint offers a variety of other natural art supplies for kids in their Eco Kids product line- including paint kits and face paint- and fine art supplies for adults.

To learn more about Natural Earth Paint & to order your own wooden egg kit, visit their website & find them on Facebook & Twitter. 

Product featured in this post:
Wooden Eggs Craft Kit- $15.95 USD
Product Features:
Sustainable FSC certified wood from the Pacific Northwest
100% non- toxic tempura- style paint

Disclosure: I received free product in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.


Photos by K Petrunia; logo courtesy of Natural Earth Paint

March posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

Getting Artsy with Natural Earth Paint {& Review}

I’m always on the hunt for natural & eco- friendly products to replace existing ones our family uses. As Ari gets older and I start thinking about the kinds of activities I want to do with her, I know that I want to include creative things including crafts, painting, etc (see my post on Curiosity Box Crafts here).  I’ve been on the hunt to see what products are out there that are safe & chemical- free for kids- especially since something like paint is going get on her skin (and probably go in her mouth!). I came across Natural Earth Paint a few months ago and was instantly excited. Their kid- friendly products are non- toxic, natural & chemical free, and eco- friendly (the packaging is biodegradable- even the plastic bags- are recyclable).
The company sent me the Petite Children’s Earth Paint Kit  to try out and I couldn’t wait to make an artsy mess with Ari. This kit contains 6 packets of powdered paint & mixing cups.

The paint powder contains 2 ingredients: natural earth pigments & organic milk protein; the company also offers a new vegan kit that contains earth pigments, corn starch & gum Arabic. Each kits contains 6 colours: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and brown. You can also purchase additional colours individually if you like (purple, white, black). 

Here’s what the paint looks like:

I followed the instructions & mixed the paint powder 1:1 with water to achieve tempura- style paint, (you can add more water if you’d like watercolour- style paint). It took about 30 seconds- 1 minute to get each of the paints mixed (Tip: mix only as much as you need for one painting session; you can refrigerate leftovers for 4- 7 days).

The colours are beautiful & vibrant- especially considering there are no artificial dyes in them:

We started off giving Ari the cups to finger paint with and she LOVED it… especially when Will joined in!

Then we decided to give her some paintbrushes just for fun to see how that would go…
She decided two were better than one! 😉
 Ariana & Daddy enjoyed making a big mess…

… Then the photographer (Mom) became the canvas! (Added bonus: the paint wipes off skin really easily- perfect for when you’re trying to wash little hands)

We enjoyed a fun afternoon as a family creating a big mess. And as predicted, Ari got paint- covered hands all over her face- and in her mouth!- and I didn’t have to worry since the paints are non- toxic and natural. After trying out the paint I also appreciated how easy clean up is- simply rinse out the cups with warm water (no soap needed) or put the left over paint in the fridge to use for your next art session. However like most other paints it will stain clothes, so make sure you wear clothes you’re not afraid to get messy & painted on. We still have plenty of paint left for several more artistic afternoons and since you can save leftovers it does go a long way. I would definitely recommend you try out Natural Earth Paint with your kids, especially if you’ve been looking for a natural, eco- friendly option. 

The company offers a variety of other natural art supplies for kids in their Eco Kids product line- such as egg- dying kits (feature & review coming soon!) and face paint- and fine art supplies for adults.

To learn more about Natural Earth Paint & check out their products, visit their website & find them on Facebook & Twitter. 

Product featured in this post:
Petite Children’s Earth Paint Kit, $19.95 USD
Product Features:
100% non- toxic tempura- style paint

Disclosure: I received free product in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.








February posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting

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