The Great Wave


Claude Monet was taken with the beauty of Japanese Art especially woodcuts. In addition to painting and gardening Claude collected Japanese Art. 

His home in Giverny, France had 231 woodblocks and Hokusai’s art was one of them. Many of Hokusai’s paintings were primarily landscapes. This inspired Monet to paint landscapes and eventually his waterlilies series.

Keeping with our Thematic Unit : Colors of the Sea, my 1st grade students created these beautiful paintings inspired by Hokusai. We used the wonderful book- 

The Great Wave 
written by Veronique Massenot 
illustrated by Bruno Pilorget


Hokusai’s most famous work is The Great Wave. 

It depicts a huge wave threatening boats off the land of Kanagawa. Many believe that the wave is a tsunami but actually it is a large wave on the open sea. In all of Hokusai’s prints of the wave series, Mount Fuji always appears in the background.

Step 1
After examining this colorful book and its vibrant images, students created a gray value scale on the construction paper background using various shades of gray pastels. 

Students shaded the lower part of their paper with dark charcoal gray, then proceeded with the lighter grays towards the top of the paper. 


Step 2

Next, students took dark blue paint and painted the wave and water. We used the letter “C” to make a wave. After the dark blue, students used a lighter blue on top, then added white to represent the waves.  I love seeing the brush strokes in the waves.
The Great Wave

Last Step

Students used a foam brush to create the white crest on the waves.



12 x 18 Various shades of light construction paper
Gray Pastels
Blue and White Tempera Paint
Large brushes


Keep on Creating! Laura

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  • Reply
    February 9, 2015 at 12:03 am

    Brilliant! I love the charcoal shading under the wave! Is the circle just a photo crop? It looks cool – maybe the kids would want their work round!

  • Reply
    February 9, 2015 at 12:19 am

    Thanks!!! It is a photo crop and I thought kids would like it too! 🙂

  • Reply
    Sharpies, paint, and paper! Oh my!
    February 16, 2015 at 4:39 am

    I love these!

  • Reply
    Danielle Smith
    February 27, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    What grade did you do this project with?

  • Reply
    February 29, 2016 at 12:59 am

    1st grade 🙂

  • Reply
    Renae Syrett
    March 17, 2016 at 4:37 am

    I want to do this project with my art class on Friday and am wondering about the charcoal value shading underneath – is there an explanation you could give about why that is included? I'm guessing it makes the paint richer but I want to be able to explain it well to my students. Thanks so much – you're awesome!

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