Finger Painting With Food: An Art Project Inspired By Monet’s Water Lilies

Today’s fine art tutorial is Inspired by Claude Monet’s, Nympheas (Water Lilies).  All you need are your fingers, some food items, tempera paint and your imagination! Claude Monet’s paintings are some of the most well-known paintings in the world, especially his water lilies. This art project inspired by Monet’s Water Lilies is the perfect sensory art project for children of any age.

Monet was the founder of the French Impressionist art movement.

Monet lived in Giverny, France, where he landscaped his own beautiful gardens and lily ponds.  These ponds became the subject of his best-known works.  He painted the water lilies for over 20 years of his life.

For this art project, Nympheas, 1897-1898, by Claude Monet is our inspiration.


Nympheas, 1897-1898, by Claude Monet.

-------------------- Advertisement --------------------


You might also enjoy this pop art for kids project inspired by Andy Warhol!

This photo shows more detail of the flowers and paint. I took this photo while visiting this painting on display at a local museum.

Here is a photo to reference for this project of real water lilies.

Supplies needed for this art project inspired by Monet’s Water Lilies:

  • Canvas or canvas board (8 x 10)
  • Tempera paint in primary colors and black & white
  • One apple
  • One stalk of celery
  • Paper plates for paint mixing
  • Paper towels for wiping fingers

The first step is to prepare the apple and celery to be used as painting tools!

The celery stalk will be used to paint our water lilies and the apple will be used to paint our lily pads!

-------------------- Advertisement --------------------


  • Cut the end off of the celery stalk and use a knife to trim some of the edges so the center of the stalk is the highest point.
  • Next, cut the end of the celery in half. The center of the stalk will create our water lily shape.
  • The apple simply needs to be sliced in half.
  • Set these aside while you paint your background.

Time to paint the background!

  • First, mix yellow and blue with your fingers to make green. Add a bit of red to make the green less bright.
  • Use your fingers to spread the paint on your canvas. Don’t worry about being too careful.  The impressionists liked the let pure color show in their paintings, just cover the white area and try not to over-blend your paint.
    • You can allow this step to dry before painting the lily pads or flowers or you can paint wet paint into the wet background. I chose to paint right into the wet background.  For younger children, you may want to allow the background to dry to allow a little more control over the next step.

Now it’s time to paint lily pads!


  • First, mix the color you would like for the lily pad with your fingers.
  • Next, rub the open face of the apple into the paint to cover it well.
  • Lay the apple on the background and press it into the paint (make sure the top of the apple makes contact with the background so you see the curved top of the apple to create the lily pad shape).
  • You can slide the apple around a bit to make the shape a little more elongated to look more like a lily pad.
  • Gently pull the apple away from the background.
  • Use your fingers to smooth any areas that didn’t cover well or to add some extra paint or colors.
  • Repeat this step with different shades of green to create as many lily pads as you would like.

Next step is to paint water lilies!

Using the same techniques as the apple for the lily pads, use the celery stalk to paint the water lily shapes.

Once you have the basic shape you like, use your fingers to add more color and details.

Allow your painting to lay flat to dry!

Your art project inspired by Monet’s Water Lilies is complete!

Our final water lily painting.

Monet’s painting alongside our painted version.

Share This

About the author

Crystal has worked in the arts and taught drawing and painting for over 25 years in Los Angeles. She loves creating art, gardening, planning fun art projects, and enjoying creative adventures with her family. Find out more at

View all articles by Crystal Foth

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *