Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Monet on my Mind

I attend an art class run by a friend of mine.  It's loads of fun and so good for me, but this past few weeks have been even better than usual.  We are studying Monet right now and have been learning about his life and works.  

Did you know that Monet used a very limited set of paints. Later in his life he had narrowed his palette down to 
only six colours of paint - and never black.  He used:

  • titanium white
  • cadmium yellow 
  • vermilion red
  • alizarin crimson
  • cobalt blue (ultramarine)
  • viridian green

To help us really experience Monet, my friend bought the exact six shades of paint that Monet used.  

Did you know Monet was a foodie? My friend made us the same treats Monet liked to eat. One of his favourites was banana ice cream laced with calvados (ours didn't have calvados, but sure was delicious).  We also had warm apple cider to sip as we were painting as that is what the impressionists liked to drink - a good Norman drink!

Did you know that Monet's favourite colour was yellow?  So my friend went to the thrift store and bought a yellow tablecloth to set the mood.  Her dining room chairs are the same as the ones Monet had in his dining room in his house at Giverny.  You can see my friend's dining chairs in the photo below and Monet's in the photo below that.

Did you know that Monet and the other impressionist artists liked to paint outdoors as they wanted to capture an accurate "impression" of the lighting.  Since the light would change throughout the day, Monet would have many paintings on the go at any one time and he switched them out as the light changed.  Monet also painted the same scene over and over capturing different lighting and moods.

in the mid-19th century, the impressionists made it popular to paint "en plein air" (outdoors) as they wanted to capture the light.  I found it interesting, though, that painting outdoors was made possible by a few advances in technology that occurred around the same time.  First, the spread of the railways meant that artists could now easily get out to the countryside to paint.  Also, in the late 1800s ready-mixed oil paints became available in tubes so the artist no longer had to mix all their paints themselves. This made it easier to quickly mix colours and to conveniently paint in outdoor settings.  

The first week we studied Monet, we attempted to copy one of his paintings of the Cliffs of Aval at Étretat, France (in the picture above) so that we could get an idea of how he applied colour and used brushstrokes.  My husband and I went to Étretat a few summers ago and when I looked back at our photos I saw one that was almost the same view as the one we painted (scroll down to the end to see the photo I took in this post here).

The next week we used the Monet-prop bridge that is at the university near where we live (I love the term "Monet-prop" that was coined by a commenter in a previous post about this bridge - cracks me up every time I say it).

We each found a spot that appealed to us and then we painted using Monet's six colours. We also had tea and a treat to sustain us while painting.

I've posted a photo of my paintings down below - promise not to laugh (truly I'm no Monet and haven't painted in years, but it was such a fun experience that I thought I would share the results).  


  1. Those are beautiful! You are very talented. Keep painting.

  2. Wow! I think your paintings are beautiful, and I like the mantle display very much. What a gorgeous setting the Monet-prop bridge is in. It sounds like you and your friend had a lot of fun recreating the Monet moods (her chairs are lovely). Thanks for an interesting post, with gorgeous pics.

  3. Grace! They are beautiful! I have never attempted to paint but my mother in law is currently teaching my 7 year old daughter. Already she has surpassed anything I could do! Outdoor painting seems to be a very lovely thing to do - surrounded by birds and the breeze - and a warm cuppa tea!

  4. Your paintings look great! Acrylics are hard (I think oils are much more forgiving). I wanted to take a plain air class at the botanical gardens, but I can't fit it into my pie yet! Maybe once Shelley is in college.

    I want to tell you about a new book I recently bought that might interest you. It's called Alla Prima by Al Gury. Check it out! I want to perfect Alla Prima painting.

    LOVE this post!


  5. I especially love your painting of the bridge. They'll have to open up a corner of the MOMA for you if you keep this up.

  6. I discover this nice site by "Best of Jackie on the Web", congrats! I'm fan of Claude Monet AND Jackie Evancho. Two very different persons but two passionate artists! I visited the home in Giverny. Very impressive place! I'd like to create a yellow dining room since this time. Maybe with an old phonograph and a glass-disc of Miss Evancho.

  7. I didn't know you painted and I think your painting of the bridge is incredible! I don't know much about art but I do know the famous Monet paintings and love them. Adore that yellow room!

  8. I loved this post!! I have spent many a beautiful afternoon at Giverny, which is not terribly far from my tante Jeanette's home in Normandy. My tonton (uncle) Marcel, Jeanette's husband, introduced my husband to Calvados many years ago (on our honeymoon), and the Norman tradition of a "trou Norman," which I will tell you about another time (hint: it involves lots of shots of Calvados).

    You have true talent with a paintbrush. Keep up the good work. Your paintings are gorgeous!

  9. I absolutely LOVED this post! So much wonderful information.

  10. Why on earth would we laugh, those are beautiful! I'm so glad you are painting, I think you may have found your niche!

    xo Kat