To some, going to an exhibition once is enough. Been there done that, I guess.For me and I hope those who love art, who study art and who practise as artists, there is more than just an enjoyable trip out when going to an event, especially one of the calibre of a Monet exhibition.
For me as both an art student and emerging professional artist there was two reasons for the revisit.
- The Emotional. I love Monet’s paintings, the colours, the texture of the paint, the beautiful feel they have in them. I cried at the first viewing and did a little more on the second.
- The Practical. This visit saw me very up close and personal with the paintings that drew my attention the most on the first viewing. This time the goal was to find out what it was that attracted my attention, how it was done, how I could try to reproduce some of the effects and what rules were applied in the composition of the paintings if any.
The session went as follows. I stood back and appreciated the painting. I then moved in very close to start dissecting it.
- How was the colour built up in the painting?
- What was holding the composition together?
- What compositional rules were applied? (rule of thirds for example)
- What colour theory had been applied if any?
- How was the paint applied throughout the painting (thinner and blended in some areas and thick pure colour in others)
- What sort of emotional reaction was it having with me as the viewer? Was this due to colour, use of materials or subject or a combination of these?
- Did Monet have a favourite palette of colours that reoccured in his paintings? How do I relate to them?
There was a lot to think about and I ended up standing in front of several paintings staring at them for quite a while. I heard a few people wondering what I was doing.
I will end up with a few of the major thoughts I had as I went from one work to another.
- There was in many paintings a flow of the darks that created a unity in the paintings
- The rule of thirds was used a lot not only with the objects but the balance of colour
- There was symmetry in the colour in many, the blue in the sky used in the water in the front bottom with a slight change in tone for example
- Colour used in a main area was stumbled in little dashes through other areas of a painting to give it unity and hold the composition together
- Monet had an amazing grasp of warm and cool and complementary colours laid over each other
- Colour was used for perspective instead of horizon lines
- Change of direction of texture in the paint lead the eye around the works and into the focal points
- There was a lot of viridian (I saw this colour repeated a lot in the Australian Impressionists paintings – next blog), blues (ultramarine and cerulean?), purples and mauves and yellows as well as various whites with reds used in some as high key colours
This was a visit to try to get into the head of a famous and brilliant painter. The more I pulled apart each work the more technical expertise I discovered. To paint so freely and the way that the Impressionists did, was not to do so without any thought to the rules of those that had preceded them, it was just how they were understood and applied to the canvas. A very valuable trip today, which I am glad I took the time to do.