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Painting with Rain: A fresh twist on impressionist style landscape painting

Painting with Rain: A fresh twist on impressionist style landscape painting

August 24, 2020

Impressionism is an art movement from the 19th century in Paris, France that is known for having small brushstrokes that are an “impression” of a scene over time. Artists who worked in this style focused on the way light affected a subject (casting shadows and highlights and color shifts) and aimed to create rhythm and movement.

After being hated by many critics at first, the style of impressionism soon caught on and even some American artists started to embrace the loose style of painting. Artists such as Mary Page Evans, the artist who painted Peonies in June from our collectionuse similar ideas explored in early impressionism to focus on the lights, darks, colors and movement of their subject matter.

Find inspiration in the impressionist style of painting with this fun, kid-friendly activity that swaps out messy paints for washable markers and a rainy day!

Mary Page Evans (b.1937), Peonies in June, 2013, oil on canvas, 54 × 44 in. Gift of Page and John Corey, 2020. © Mary Page Evans
Mary Page Evans (b.1937), Peonies in June, 2013, oil on canvas, 54 × 44 in. Gift of Page and John Corey, 2020. © Mary Page Evans
Painting with rain activity example
This “painting with rain” example uses Mary Page Evan's "Peonies in June" as inspiration.


Gather Your Supplies:

Painting with rain

  • Washable markers
  • Pencil
  • Watercolor paper
  • A rainy day

Step One:

Painting with rain
After you have gathered all of your supplies, begin your landscape by lightly sketching a horizon line (where the sky meets the land) with your pencil.

Pro Tip: For an interesting composition, avoid making your horizon line in the middle of your paper. 


Step Two:

Painting with Rain
Next, decide what you want your landscape to look like and lightly sketch in your background, middle ground and foreground. I was very inspired by Mary Page Evans’ painting of peonies, so I decided to stick with a landscape with lots of flowers. You can choose to make any landscape you want (the ocean, a field, seasonal, tropical, mountains)! 

Pro Tip: Impressionist painters work from observation. If possible, draw directly from observation. (Being in a city, my Poppy flower landscape is a bit of a fantasy land for me!)


Step Three:

Painting with Rain
Color your landscape by blocking out small sections of different colors with your lines/strokes going in different directions. Some things to consider when coloring:

  • Is the area of your landscape that you are coloring dark or light? Darker area = more marker, lighter area = less marker.
  • How vibrant do you want your colors? Vibrant = more marker, less vibrant = less marker
  • How will the colors you are using blend when they get wet and run together? Try experimenting with layering and putting colors next to each other to blend. I had a great success with using blue to mix with my green to darken and yellow to mix with my green to lighten.

Step Four:

Painting with Rain
Once you have all of your colors blocked in, it is time to let mother nature take over and blend all of your beautiful colors together. Set your drawing outside on a flat surface while its raining. If possible, monitor the process so you can decide when you are happy with the amount of blending. 

Pro Tip: Use caution; if you can hear thunder, you are close enough for lightning strikes. Wait for rain that isn’t paired with thunder and lightning OR use a squirt bottle indoors to achieve a similar effect.