Meeting my inner Monet

There has been plenty of whining about some of the classes I have survived. I’m in the home stretch towards my Associates degree and I found myself two credits short. I thought a painting class would be a fun and easy way to knock those babies out. Read on to see how not-easy this class actually is.

Before I tell you about the challenging assignments, I want to express how much I love mixing colors and getting them onto a canvas. Whenever I have ventured into this medium before, I found myself very frustrated. Largely due to lack of technique and patience, which quickly spirals into “I don’t know how to do this” and “I give up”. Yes, I need some instruction to excel beyond my fourth grade level of artistry.

The first two assignments were fun and easy. In fact, I didn’t touch a paintbrush outside of class at all. The third assignment just about killed me. It began before spring break, and was due after, and there was no way to get the thing respectably finished without spending HOURS on it at home.

Weren’t you planning to spend your spring break on the beach and with family? What was this crazy assignment, you ask? And why did it take you so long?

Here’s the answer… I was trying to imitate Claude Monet.

I have admired his work forever. The assignment was to choose a famous painting, put a small copy of it on a larger canvas, then extend the image in whatever direction you’d like. Then paint the extension, matching the color and style of the original. The goal is that your audience should not be able to discern where the original small image stops, and your extended image begins.

No one has ever accused me of being unambitious. Here’s the finished piece…

monet painting

You can easily spot the original in the upper right. The rest is all mine.

The copy is like 6″ x 9″ with the finished piece at 16″ x 20″. Claude Monet painted on images that won’t even fit in my house. His use of color and brush technique is brilliant, but nearly impossible to replicate exactly. Parts were fun, others, not so much.

You’ve heard the phrase, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” It’s true! There was only one Claude Monet, and I now possess an even deeper appreciation for his work.

I got a 97. I’m sure if I had been less grumbly about it, I may have gotten a higher score. Let’s just say I had a bit of an attitude toward the final critique when the suggestions for more changes kept coming at me. Which were all good ones. Which I eventually incorporated. I happily donated the finished piece so next year’s students will see why they should choose something easier. I’m definitely done seeing it!

Honestly, I don’t know what I was thinking, but it was not that I would spend around THIRTY hours on an art assignment. It’s okay, because here is a short list of things I learned:

  • Great work takes time
  • Great work takes patience.
  • Great work demands great effort.
  • Great work does not get completed in one sitting.
  • Great work requires the humility to accept honest feedback.
  • Great work is within reach when the above are applied.

The biggest one is this: I am an original artist. There is no need to go around trying to copy someone else. I know what I like, and I will work to accomplish the style and technique that feels right to me.

Now, don’t go commissioning me just yet. I still have three more projects to put together in the next six weeks. Perhaps this summer I can join the starving artist club?

The next time you are in a gallery, or an art show, stop and look closely. Try to imagine how much time an artist sat in front of that very canvas and had to keep going. Repaint. Fix. Remix the color. Change the lighting. Repaint again. Change the shadow. Change the perspective. Repaint again. Revise the finished goal because the one they originally planned is long gone.

Or maybe that’s just the way I had to do it. They are probably artistic geniuses out there and everything just floats off of their brush perfectly onto the canvas exactly as they envisioned it would.

Either way, I hope you appreciate the labor of love that is behind the art you admire.

There are more lessons – and paintings to come. It’s so much better than posting the dating dilemmas and the mundane math problems, don’t you think?

Thanks for reading, until next time…




2 thoughts on “Meeting my inner Monet

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