Teaching Ideas

Early Learning

For Ages 3-5

Art Discussion

  • What do you notice in this painting? As children point out details of the scene, have them move their bodies to imitate the positions. For example, stand with arms extended skyward to be a tree, use arms and hands to form a roof shape overhead to be a house, or mimic the movement of waves with your hands and arms to be the distant water.
  • What colors do you see?
  • Review the concept of warm and cool colors, showing the children examples. How are the colors grouped together in the painting? Where are the warmer colors? Where are the cooler colors? The artist is using a trick of the eye to help us imagine that there are parts of this scene that are closer to us, and parts that are farther away. We have a tendency to see warm colors as coming towards us and cool colors moving backward.
  • Do you think this is a painting of a real place or an imaginary place?
  • Show images of Bougival as it looks today and have the children compare with the painting. What has the artist changed? Which version do you like best?
  • If you could jump into this painting, which area would you most like to visit?
  • Maurice de Vlaminck was part of a group of artists known as Les Fauves, or “the Wild Beasts” because of their emotional use of color. What feeling do the colors in this painting give you?

Art Activities

  • Explore the idea of expressive use of color by doing some “crazy” coloring. Give children a simple outline of a familiar object such as a banana, a tree, or a flower and challenge them to choose colors for their pictures based on how they feel, rather than how the object might look in real life. For instance, a red banana might be an angry banana, a rainbow-colored tree might be excited and happy. Have children share pictures with each other and explain what emotion they are trying to convey with their color choices.

Encouraging Dialogue

For Students K-12

  • Imagine yourself visiting a gallery in 1906 when this painting might have been exhibited. You are accustomed to seeing orderly, pleasant landscapes that provide a path that gently allowed you to enter a lovely, peaceful area of the French countryside. How would you react to this painting?
  • Maurice de Vlaminck was among a group of artists who were referred to as "Les Fauves," or in English, "the Wild Beasts." Why do you think that French critics would use this term to describe artists who painted works like Bougival?
  • Why would an artist choose to paint a landscape in colors different from real life?
  • What does it mean to be expressive? How can color be expressive? What colors would you use to show excitement, calm, etc.?
  • Vlaminck described his process of painting en plein-air as, “I used to go to work right out in the sunshine; the sky was blue, the wheat fields seemed to be stirring and trembling in the torrid heat, with hues of yellow covering the whole scale of chromes; they quivered as if they were about to go up in flames. Vermillion alone could render the brilliant red of the roof tiles on the hillside across the river. The orange of the soil, the raw, harsh colors of walls and grass, the ultramarine and cobalt of the sky, harmonized to extravagance at a sensual, musical pitch.” Think about Vlaminck’s description of colors as you look at the painting. Do the colors really "quiver"? Explain your answer.
  • How would you describe the colors you see in the landscape? Be creative and adventurous with your descriptions. Give each color a nickname (i.e. sidewalk gray or jalapeño green).
  • Some people may think that this painting looks "realistic," and some may think that this painting looks "abstracted." Do you think this looks more like a "realistic" landscape or an "abstracted" landscape? Why?
  • Compare Bougival to Vincent Van Gogh’s Sheaves of Wheat (1985.R.80). How does each artist use color and line? How has each artist moved away from a realistic or ideal image of a landscape? Share your thoughts about similarities and differences with the class.

Making Connections

For Students K-12

  • Investigate the illusion of three-dimensional space in this landscape. Find these three overlapping parts: the foreground, the middle ground, and the background. Try to draw a map of this space.
  • Consider the idea of abstraction. Many French landscape paintings prior to the 1870s appeared very realistic or even idealized. View Claude-Joseph Vernet’s painting Approaching Storm (1983.41.FA) to see an earlier example of French landscape painting. Artists such as Maurice de Vlaminck used extremely saturated colors and abstract shapes when painting a landscape. Take a photograph of a landscape and create an abstract painting of the same place. (Hint: instead of painting, use colored paper and glue sticks to create a multi-layered artwork.)
  • Compare and contrast a landscape painting that uses realistic color (i.e. Vernet’s Approaching Storm) to one that uses nonrepresentational colors (i.e. Robert Delaunay’s Eiffel Tower (1981.105) or Bernard’s Breton Women Attending a Pardon (1963.34). Keep in mind how artists use representational and nonrepresentational colors. Give each student a black and white printout of a landscape painting they have not seen before that they can color however they like (Hint: search DMA collections online for images). Afterwards, show them a color reproduction of the work of art and discuss how their color choices are similar to or different from the artist’s.