How the French impressionists are leaving their mark on this artist.
There's no doubt about it, but a trip to Paris, Giverny and the Charvin paint shop is having an impact on my painting. But those French impressionists have been having an impact for years!
Last week I sat in a garden and painted the pond.
The thing is it was Monet’s Garden and it was his waterlily Pond
Picasso said "The muse may strike at any time, but she must find you working"
Since turning pro and being a full time artist this has been my mantra. The art world is littered with other beautiful art quotes which still amount to the same thing. Stop faffing about and get on with it!
The thing is that work, consistent work, constant effort, making mistakes, and making discoveries can lead to great inspiration, and great work. Picasso is right.
People still have grand romantic schemes that artists sit around in cafes, drinking wine, and discussing philosophy, politics and art all day. Then suddenly the Muse will strike them and they will head back to the leaky garret and create the next masterpiece ready for the salon to judge next season! Perhaps the modern English reality isn't that artists are sitting about in cafes all day instead life consists of getting up late, taking the dog for a walk, seeing a beautiful tree leaning over a river and heading back to the studio and magically painting it.
The reality is different.
I'm not complaining one bit.
My artistic life is wonderful and I thoroughly enjoy it, but it's definitely hard work. There is a big difference between sauntering along a country lane considering the beauty of the sky while the dog sniffs around in the hedge, compared to lugging your easel and painting equipment, setting up for a day of en plein air painting. Serious concentration is required to really analyse the landscape around you. Sketch after sketch, considering light, colour, composition. The sketches produced on those en plein air days will help you in the studio the next day, the next week or even next year you can work from those sketches.
Here comes the muse, and there you were, working. That's why she came!
Part of the problem with artists' block is thinking that we must find something completely new and original. Modest subject matter won't be enough to sate our artist need. Not true.
While I'm writing this I am listening to Ella Fitzgerald singing "It ain't what you do it's the way that you do it" and she's right too.
There isn't a monopoly on painting landscape, or a beautiful flower, or a still life of fruit. We can choose to paint anything, we can find inspiration anywhere, it's what we bring to the party ourselves that makes our treatment of the subject matter interesting.
That constant work while waiting for the muse is how we find our voice.
It's about our style, it's about how we create that landscape or how we capture that moment.
The artists I know don't magic a masterpiece out of the air.
It comes from graft, and craft.
We have to think about it, study it, experiment with it; we have to let it brew inside our minds and then find the techniques and skills put onto the page what our mind has already seen.
I have just returned from an arty break in Paris. Despite several visits to Paris over the years, there was one particular museum that had escaped me, this time I had to make a visit; it was the Musee d’Orsay. Musee d'Orsay is open late on Thursday evenings and we decided this would be the best possible time to visit.
As we strolled along the banks of the Seine that Thursday evening watching the sunset in the distance, I couldn't help but feel myself become a French impressionist just by looking at the light in the sky. The thing that struck me most about that evening sunset was how pink it was! We sometimes have pink sunsets in England, maybe a hint of pink highlighting a cloud. But that evening the sky looked so pink and the light that was reflected off of the buildings looked golden. It felt truly magical to be walking by the river that evening.
I resisted the temptation to buy the entire shop then and there, and make my way to the gallery.
In the Musee D’ Orsay we headed straight for the impressionists. No postcard, no photograph, no book, no second hand image can do them justice. Monet’s sunset simply glowed, Renoir’s dappled light shimmered. Looking outside through the enormous clock window we could see Sacre Coeur in the distance bathed in the exact golden pinky glow that sat before us in so many paintings. These artists hadn’t exaggerated the light and colour, they had looked at it properly and made it sing.
I scrutinised the paintings focused entirely on colour.
Again and again I saw muted pinks, greys made from violets and yellow dancing gently over blue.
I would return to Aladin’s cave, and this time I knew exactly what I would buy.
Paris fashion week coincided with part of our visit. I have not returned home with any shoes, handbags or haute couture.
Pour moi - Haute couleur!
The wonderful paints are "Charvin - Maison de Haute Couleur".
I have paint, and inspiration and can’t wait to embark on making my next painting glow.
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