Tag Archives: painter

Monet and his Bridge

As a kid, I had this bizarre obsession with Monet’s artwork. I had books about his life and compilations of his paintings. I loved the one print reproduction we had in our house, an earlier work called The Poppy Field (seen just below). I think my real fascination with Monet, though, came with his later work, his series collections.

I suppose a quick background of the French impressionist is necessary at this point.

his first wife Camille and oldest son Jean are featured

Claude Monet lived from 1840 to 1926. In 1862, Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Frédéric Bazille, and Alfred Sisley. They shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light with broken color and rapid brushstrokes.

Monet is considered a founder of French impressionist painting and the most consistent and prolific practitioner of the movement’s philosophy of expressing one’s perceptions before nature. The term Impressionism is even derived from the title of one of his paintings, Impression, Sunrise. What distinguished Monet from the other Impressionist painters was his innovative idea of creating Series paintings devoted to paintings of a single theme or subject. With the repetitious study of the subject at different times of day, Monet’s paintings show the effects of sunlight, time, and weather through color and contrast.

On my my favorites of Monet’s series is those of the Japanese footbridge across the famous water lily pond. He painted the bridge over and over in various seasons and time of day, even at various ages. The first photo below is entitled The Bridge over the Water-Lily Pond and is a clear, beautiful interpretation of Monet’s lovely garden. The second was painted nearly 20 years later (in 1923) from the same perspective. As an impressionist, Monet painted what he saw. Here we see vividly the deterioration of Monet’s eyesight just a year before his death. The red tones that dominate the painting are characteristic of cataracts, from which Monet suffered greatly.

perhaps the most famous version, painted in 1905

painted late in Monet's life as he was going blind

the bridge as it is today

It occurred to me a few days ago that I have sort of mimicked Monet’s series style art unknowingly with the pictures I’ve taken of my apartment building in various times and seasons. I realize now that I only have summer and winter photographs, but now that it’s a conscious effort, I’ll be capturing spring and fall too, when the times comes.

yeah, I live there


top right

looks cozy, doesn't it?

Maybe when it gets (much) warmer outside, I’ll even attempt to sketch this perspective, to truly pay tribute to Monet’s magnificent contributions to the world of modern art. However, I doubt the Internet world will ever get a chance to see my efforts in that regard… there’s a reason I devote all of my artistic vision to writing instead of drawing (and it’s certainly not for lack of effort).

Lovers and Other Strangers

My absolute favorite artist in the world is Jack Vettriano, which may seem a little cliche due to a few extremely well known and well exploited works of his.  However, I feel unique in saying so because I’ve studied his work, I know his background, I can recognize his distinctive style from a mile away.  I’ve no less than seven prints by Vettriano on display in my apartment (and about fifty more that I wish I had wall space for), not to mention the coffee table book on my, well, coffee table.  The Singing Butler is probably his most famous work, which was interestingly enough part of his first London exhibition back in October 1992 called God’s Children:

you know

Vettriano was born in Fife, Scotland in 1951.  He sparked an interest in painting when a girlfriend gave him a set of watercolors on his 21st birthday, and spent the next nearly 20 years teaching himself how to paint.

In 1989, he submitted two paintings to the Royal Scottish Academy’s annual exhibition; both were accepted and sold on the first day. The following year, an equally enthusiastic reaction greeted the three paintings, which he entered for the prestigious Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy and his new life as an artist began from that point on.

The next twenty years produced over 23 separate exhibitions, including those during his 13-year residence at London’s Portland Gallery, which produced such projects as The Passion and the Pain; Between Darkness and Dawn; Lovers and Other Strangers; Affairs of the Heart; and Love, Devotion, and Surrender.

this makes me think of November (probably because it was the featured piece on a calendar I had once)

I have a deep appreciation for Vettriano’s work mostly due his fascination with stylized 20s- and 30s-type settings and characters.  I also love his use of rich, warm colors for his light, sentimental work, and cooler, occasionally faded colors for his darker, moodier pieces.  Vettriano devotes his efforts to exploring specifically angles of the human body and how changing postures and profiles can portray emotion or circumstance, and more broadly, human interactions in general – half of his works feature two or more people and the other half seems to be clearly contemplating those not shown.

The thought and lyricism in the titles of his works is another effort that rings especially important to me (as a writer and general lover of language).  The piece above is called Back Where You Belong.  The piece below is Elegy for a Dead Admiral.

one of my definite favs

I find his work to convey both timelessness and elegance, his collection as a whole striking a delicate balance between the ethereal and the esoteric.  The pieces both above and below are hanging in my dining room.

The next few pieces are Mad Dogs, The Temptress, Waltzers, and Sweet Bird of Youth, respectively.

a fairly early work

a fairly recent work

might recognize this one too

the first piece I ever saw

A few other well recognized paintings are Bad Boy, Good Girl (1994), In Thoughts of You (1996), Dance Me to the End of Love (1998), and Cafe Days (1995).  Below is Vettriano, now 58:

the artist