Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Inspiration from Monet

Ode to Monet
My last class from Creative Thursday with Marisa was this past week.  Our assignment was to create something or anything we wanted to.  It was called a wild card project.  We could try any medium and do anything we wanted to.  I wasn't sure what I was going to create, until I stumbled across a picture of me standing in front of Monet's Water Lilies painting in my journal.  My heart stopped and I remembered when I actually stood next to a Monet Water Lily in the Metroplitan Museum of Art two years ago on a wonderful Sunday morning.   It was many years before that when I had the privilege to see the triptych of  "Clouds on the Water Lily Pond" paintings in the MoMA (Museum of Modern Art), also in New York City.

For my last project with Creative Thursday I chose to finger paint a Monet Waterlillies painting.  I had actually taken a finger painting workshop at my local Jerry's Artarama a while back with Allen Montague, a finger painting maestro. (You can find him demonstrating on YouTube).  It was fun to learn a new technique on a Friday afternoon. I took lots of notes, I bought the paints and canvas but I never did anything with it after the workshop.  Does this sound familiar?  How many art projects are we going to get to someday!  We collect art stuff and more art stuff!

Monet has truly been my painting inspiration my whole watercolor artistic life (that sounds silly doesn't it?)  I love his choice of colors, his style of impressionistic painting.  I have read as much about Monet as I possibly can and have truly fallen in love with his Waterlilly series of paintings.  In fact, Monet truly was the leader of the impressionistic movement in France.  No one else compared! When I was attending a Vision conference in New York City I had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Modern Art.   I saw lots of paintings and unusual photographs that I didn't understand and did not find impressive.  I know that all art is interpreted to individual tastes; so I know someone appreciated the exhibits I saw, I truly did not!

I then stumbled into one room that was filled with Monet's Waterlilies.  In this large room was a series of three large panels of oil paintings depicting Japanese style ponds covered in water lilies.  I truly felt an overwhelming flood of emotions.  I stood in awe! The three canvases were displayed on three separate walls.  Monet had always specified that they be displayed on curved walls so that it would feel like water.   Please believe me when I say I that I sat there for hours in peaceful meditation just feeling the presence of Monet; my favorite artist of all time.  I sketched with my journal, wrote my observations of his techniques and color choices.  If only I could speak to him, watch him with paintbrush in hand, meet him face to face; heck how about study with him...a girl can dream can't she???

Photos courtesy of MoMA website

As I listened to the audio commenting on these wonderful paintings, I learned that Monet completed these paintings in 1920.  He painted these paintings with failing eyesight in the last years of his life. Being an Optician, my heart felt for him with his failing eyesight and his desire to continue painting.  He truly wasn't finished with all he wanted to accomplish.   In fact, his color choices were greatly criticized by others.  That is exactly what I love and am drawn to the most in these paintings; his choice of muted and gentle colors.  I also learned that these three large canvases were stored for over twenty years after his death before they were exhibited in any museum. I can just envision a stuffy room full of Monet's paintings all over and no one tending to these precious treasures. The MoMA acquired all three canvases in 1959 and have remained there ever since.  I urge you to see them if you find yourself in New York City.  I came home with a large poster of that exhibit and it is a reminder for me of that wonderful Sunday morning experience.

So my little finger painting was completed in just a few hours.  I played classical music by Debussy and began the creative process.  It was fun to try something new and it is amazing what your fingers can do with some acrylic paint.  I am used to painting with watercolors, but acrylic was fun and different for me.  So another lesson learned:  Don't be afraid to step out of your creative box! Thank you for the challenge Marisa.  What a wonderful course that was for six weeks.  If she offers it again, please consider taking it, you will not be disappointed.  It is important to be with a community of creatives.
My creative thursday!
So I now have a new addition to my art studio and as I look at it I am reminded of many things:  trying something new is good for you . . . I am still in awe of Monet the man and his work . . . Museums on a Sunday morning are awesome . . . fill your eyes with good art . . . be inspired by others . . .   study your mentors  and learn about them . . . and most of all enjoy your wonderful artistic life.