What Materials Did Claude Monet Use for His Paintings?

Monet was a French Impressionist artist who used several materials to envision, draft and finally create his artwork. His first painting was “Impression: Sunrise” and provided the basis for the name of the Impressionist movement. Impressionists often used natural landscapes in their art and depicted varying degrees of light to create an impression of the actual image.


The canvas that Monet chose to paint on consisted of light hues, from white to a light gray and even yellow. His brushstrokes added texture and depth to his painting by juxtaposing several layers of color. His focus on creating textures on the canvas that complemented the object resulted in vibrant art. Many times, he mixed his colors and formed them directly on the canvas instead of using a painter’s palette.


Eugene Boudin was Monet’s mentor and began teaching him to use oil paints in 1856. The oil paints were used to master an outside painting technique. However, Monet actually finished many of his paintings in his studio. He spent several days watching his objects as the light changed, and he determined ahead of time the proper oils, colors, and textures to use. He then painted on location with his oils and took the painting home to complete in his studio.


Monet confined himself to painting with just nine colors, according to artist and art critic James Heard. These colors were lead white, madder red, vermilion, french ultramarine, black ivory, cadmium yellow, chrome yellow, viridian, and emerald green. Limiting his palette of usable colors made it possible for him to focus on his art and develop a special attachment and meaning for each color. Monet believed that color choices depended upon the artistic purpose and the ability to use the color effectively.

Charcoal and Sketchbooks

One lesser-known fact about Monet was that he started out creating charcoal caricatures of people. When he was 15, he was able to begin making a living selling his caricatures while studying at the Academie Suisse in Paris. Another interesting material that Monet used was a sketchbook — which goes against the romantic ideal of an Impressionist artist filled with inspiration creating art on the spot. Actually, Monet was a judicious painter and carefully plotted his ideas.


“Paint Like Monet”; James Heard; 2006
1st Art Gallery: Claude Monet [http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Claude-Oscar-Monet/Claude-Oscar-Monet-oil-paintings.html]


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