How to Paint Water Lilies Like Monet in 14 Minutes

Some of us are using this peri­od of self-iso­la­tion to make sour­dough.

Oth­ers are learn­ing to play an instru­ment or ini­ti­at­ing a dai­ly yoga prac­tice.

For those con­sid­er­ing tak­ing up paint­ing, David Dun­lop’s Emmy-Award win­ning PBS series Land­scapes Through Time offers an excel­lent alter­na­tive (or sup­ple­ment) to the well-estab­lished joys of cult fig­ure Bob Ross, the eter­nal king of tele­vi­sion art instruc­tion.

Like Ross, Dun­lop has a mel­low onscreen tem­pera­ment that pairs beau­ti­ful­ly with the enchant­i­ng set­ting of Claude Monet’s famous water gar­den, above.

(Those who’ve vis­it­ed Monet’s house and gar­den at Giverny will envy him his tourist-free access to the site. Even those with no inten­tion of pick­ing up a brush should find it restora­tive to spend time gaz­ing at the same love­ly view that Dun­lop, like Mon­et before him, looks at through a delib­er­ate­ly Impres­sion­is­tic squint.)

He packs a lot of art appre­ci­a­tion into 14 eas­i­ly digest­ed min­utes, touch­ing on art his­to­ry, brush tech­nique, com­po­si­tion, use of light, and, in par­tic­u­lar, col­or the­o­ry.

When the muse­ums reopen, you may find this crash course has enhanced your enjoy­ment, espe­cial­ly as per­tains to can­vas­es by Mon­et and his fel­low Impres­sion­ists.

For those pur­su­ing the hands-on oil paint­ing expe­ri­ence, Dun­lop pro­vides a sup­ply list of col­ors, all read­i­ly avail­able:

Cobalt Blue

Cad­mi­um Yel­low

Alizarin Crim­son


Bril­liant Rose

Emer­ald Green

Hooker’s Green

Tita­ni­um White

His brush­es and paper appear to be gar­den vari­ety, and his approach, like Ross’, is fast and loose.

Those who favor a less brazen approach may feel more at home with his water­col­or paint­ing demon­stra­tion in Cezanne’s Mont Sainte-Vic­toire in Provence, France, below.

There are more excerpts and instruc­tion on Dunlop’s YouTube chan­nel. For those wish­ing to take it to the next lev­el, Dun­lop is teach­ing a series of inter­ac­tive stu­dio demon­stra­tion class­es via Zoom. Reg­is­ter here.

Relat­ed Con­tent: 

Rare 1915 Film Shows Claude Mon­et at Work in His Famous Gar­den at Giverny

Watch Every Episode of Bob Ross’ The Joy Of Paint­ing Free Online: 403 Episodes Span­ning 31 Sea­sons

Bob Ross’ Christ­mas Spe­cial: Cel­e­brate, Relax, Nod Off

Ayun Hal­l­i­day is an author, illus­tra­tor, the­ater mak­er and Chief Pri­ma­tol­o­gist of the East Vil­lage Inky zine.  Her art in iso­la­tion has tak­en the form of a hasti­ly assem­bled trib­ute to the clas­sic 60s social line dance, The Madi­son. Fol­low her @AyunHalliday.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.