Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Monet, Monet!

Jeanne and Pat on the Japanese Bridge in Monet's Garden

Yes, it was raining the day we went to Giverny to see Monet's House and Garden.  And, it wasn't an easy trip.  First, we left Paris on the Metro (their subway) to the train station.  Then we took the train to Vernon, a town next to Giverny because the train doesn't go to Giverny.  I think Monet chose this town on purpose for that reason!  So then you catch a bus from Vernon to get there.  You could take a cab, but then you would have to make arrangements for a pick-up since they don't hang around in Giverny.  Finally we are there in every painter's paradise!  I have been there and painted there in the past, but never saw the iris and the wisteria in bloom.  Amazing!  Even in the rain, the colors were spectacular!  
I just happened to catch ONE of the school groups having a group photo.  They looked to be 4 or 5 yrs old.  There were hordes of school children there!  I felt sad that it was raining on their field day but very pleased that their teachers wanted to bring the children to see the home and gardens of an artist! 
Monet loved children.  After his first wife Camille died, he and Alice who became his second wife, raised his two sons and her children in Giverny.  He painted them in the gardens.  I like to imagine the family living there.  The kitchen is my favorite room.  It is tiled in blue and white and is large and cheery.  I can see the children coming and going while Alice cooks, Monet outside painting with Blanche, one of his stepdaughters, rolling a wheelbarrow filled with canvases for him.  She loved to paint too! 
I just want to say, "Thank you, Mr. Monet, for devoting your life to painting and to gardening so that generations to come can enjoy your art and your home."  And thanks to the Claude Monet Foundation for restoring the properties and maintaining them.  If you like Monet's paintings, I hope that you have a chance to visit Giverny and see the places in the paintings!

That reminds me, I need to water my flowers!
Au Revoir!


Monday, June 11, 2012

An Artist's Life

Van Gogh's portrait sculpture outside the Maison de Sante Saint-Paul  Mental Hospital in St. Remy-de Provence-France

I am still haunted by the memories of visiting the St. Remy mental hospital where Van Gogh stayed for a year (1889-1890).  He has always been an artist that I was interested in.  I wondered about his heavy worm-like brushstrokes.  What did he see?  What did he think?  The more I read and researched his life, the more questions would appear.
Fortunately for us, his sister-in-law kept all the letters that Vincent wrote to his brother Theo.  She also kept the paintings, hundreds of them that Vincent shipped to Paris, thinking that his brother the art dealer was actually selling some of them.  We all know he only sold one in his lifetime.  Thanks to Jo we have some insight into what and why Vincent painted what he did. 
At St. Remy, Vincent painted 142 paintings, some books say 150, and over 100 drawings.  Probably the most important period in his work. He had admitted himself to the hospital for rest, after a disastrous stay in Arles (I won't go into that).  When he was "improved" he was allowed out to paint around in the area.  This is where he painted the famous "Starry Night" and quite a few others that you would know. Think of all the money that Theo sent to cover canvas and paint! 

A bedroom typical of what Vincent would have had with a reproduction of one of his paintings he did while there.

Vincent for the most part, lived a very unhappy life, unable to have meaningful relationships with friends or family.  He had bouts of manic depression, maybe epilepsy, and maybe glaucoma.   But his inspiration to us is his passion and devotion to his art.  
So some of the questions:  Are we in love with his art or with his story?  If he were alive today, would his art be valued?  Would he be your friend or someone you would help?  Do you have to be crazy to be an artist? 
What do you think?

Off to the studio...