Thank you, Michelle (Mihaela) , for this beautiful picture of the GoAaF. What a great idea for an Instagram: beautiful photos of books and cups of tea. OK,now I get it.
Dear Reader of this blog Elizabeth emailed this Instagram pic to me on a day when I needed a little bit of applause in my life — good timing, Elizabeth; Thank you, too.
Last week I also got the proof for the Korean-language edition of Le Road Trip:
I can’t read Korean, but it seems that there are a lot more words in the Korean edition than in the English one that I wrote. But it’s plain to see that it’s a superb-looking production and I am very grateful to the publishers in Seoul for their care and consideration.
These were the bright spots in a challenging week. Mr. Fluffy (see: last week’s stray cat found in my back yard) went to the vet on Monday and had some health issues (infection, anemia) that kept him in the hospital for five days, but he’s on the mend and I am looking forward to getting him placed in a forever home soon. Of course I had hoped, as soon as I found him, that he’d be chipped for easy identification, but I wasn’t too hopeful: a person who doesn’t bother to get his cat neutered is not likely to bother getting the same cat chipped. Mr. Fluffy was not chipped.
The other dark cloud in my week as how I was not able to paint one single decent picture this week. It’s when I paint like this . . .
. . . that makes me wish I worked at Dunkin Donuts. Because isn’t everyone who stops by Dunkin Donuts in a good mood? Is there anything about selling glazed donuts that doesn’t make the world a better place?
That (above) was my first try. Shame on me that I didn’t spot the craptitude until I’d got to that point, after committing quite a bit of time to this image. So I put this picture aside and spent a day practicing how to make those spikes of light green leaves popping up in a row look convincing. What I’m trying to do, BTW, is a Summer view of Monet’s grand allee, when the iris are in bloom, which you might know better from the Spring versions of this scene that I have painted previously, back when I knew how to paint:
I might have to call QUITS on this Summer view, because my second attempt was hardly any better:
I think my time would have been better spent gorging on glazed donuts.
I have looked through my reference photos of Monet’s garden from my visit of May 2013 for an alternative view of the allee, and I’m partial to this:
Oh wait, That’s not in Monet’s garden — that’s 5 o’clock at my beautiful B&B, Le Coin des Artists, on the Rue Claude Monet in Giverny. Those fluffy ears you see at the far end of the table belong to this handsome fella:
ANY HOO, getting back in Monet’s garden, I’m thinking of doing this:
Except that it’s already been done. . .
. . . by Fabrice Moireau in his beautifully illustrated book Le Jardin de Claude Monet:
I came across this book last month in the inter webs and I almost gave up trying to paint Monet’s garden — who wants to go where Fabrice Moireau has already gone??
It was when I got this book in my hands that I was relieved to discover something about M. Moireau that makes room for my little contribution to the Monet garden illustration world. M. Moireau is nothing but amazing when it comes to painting architecture, as you can see in this pic of Monet’s kitchen:
BUT, and this is just me talking here, and I’m nobody with the kind of cred that Fabrice Moireau has, BUT his garden paintings are, well, lacking. They not just as strong as his architectural stuff. Compare (above) to this:
I know what Monet’s all looks like in September, when the bright orange and red nasturtiums are filling in the allee and the color scheme of the flower bends alongside it are warm hues of yellow and scarlet, and this doesn’t do it for me. This is how I see it:
I should note that repetition of M. Moireau’s subject matter is hard to avoid because there are a limited number of garden paths in Monet’s garden from which to take a view. In the Water Garden the situation is even more dire. There is only one main path to take around the pond, so everyone tends to get the same views. For example, the view of the famous Japanese bridge that I painted last month:
And M. Moireau’s take on the same view:
I know exactly where we were both standing when we took in this scene. But as you can see, M. Moireau pulled back his point of view much farther than I did. I thought I’d show this painting for Dear Reader Jeanine, to show how one artist coped with all those damn background trees in Monet’s garden.
You can see that M. Moireau made the decision to leave the willow trees (on the right side of his pic) undifferentiated, and to paint in more detail the Copper Beech and what I think are maple trees. I think this is a curious decision to make, because it’s the willow trees that give the Water Garden its “oomph”, n’est-ce pas? But I assume that M. Moireau is making decisions that play to his strengths as a painter (don’t we all?) and M. Moireau is very good at painting Copper Beeches and the like. But there you are, Dear Reader Jeanie: massive background foliage.
Speaking of “playing to your strengths”, let’s take another look at the way M. Moireau did the allee of Monet’s garden:
Notice how he has emphasized the the foreground in this composition. Notice that the foreground contains the architectural elements that M. Mireau is so fantastically adept at painting: the hand railings to the staircase to Monet’s front door, a stair, a bench; the foreground also shows some indistinct [lame] stuff that seems to be white flowers on either side of the staircase which are there, it seems to be, to take up space. M. Moireau is also very good at painting [certain kinds of] trees — so the big yew trees at the top of the allee take up another big chunk of the pic. What’s left, in my option, squeezed into the narrow band in the middle of the pic, is very little information about one of the most stunning features of Monet’s garden — those amazingly curated color fields of flowers that line the allee. Why? Because M. Moireau doesn’t “do” flower beds.
But man, can that guy paint Paris!
In my humble and respectful opinion, M. Moireau, as an unparalleled artist of urban landscapes and the premier painter of architectural subjects, was the wrong guy to let loose in Monet’s garden.
He should have been sent to Villandry:
As for me, I am going to send myself back to the drawing board and give the allee another chance. Maybe I’ll find a way to paint to my strengths. And if not, I will live to my strengths and find a cat to give a lap to, sip a cup of tea, stuff myself with glazed donuts, complain about the world, and then take a nap, all of which I am very good at.
Have a great weekend, everyone.