The June/July stint in France was a busy one. Other than the weekly outing to different markets, and the excursion to Nice/Cannes, we hardly went anywhere else. I was exhilarated that we actually managed to fit in a day trip to Claude Monet’s hometown though! To think I saw the very site where the famous water lilies were painted!
I recall stepping out from Musée de l’Orangerie two years ago, feeling like I have meditated for ages and starting on a clean slate of freshness and new emotions. I had spent the day sitting in front of the full-curved-wall panels of his Nypheas, totally immersed in the spirit of his expressions. I could only describe that feeling in two words – Ephemeral Stillness. Within each painting, the component of each painting, captures a moment in time forever for us to enjoy. Yet, each painting captured so many snapshots of different moments in time, one just intimately knows the ephemerality of these moments. Not to mention, the exhibition of these individual paintings captured different seasons and one can savour the flavours of how these elements of nature behave and interact over the seasons. I was caught in the moment of his time, and soaked in his perception and expression of nature and light.
Window into Monet’s studio.
I had the good fortune of visiting his home two years later. For me, it was like a technical collection of his colour palette – all the different flowers in different colours casting different shadows and altering their colours on one another. I was totally in awe. The different shades of pink, the different reds, the different translucencies and different hues from shadows and the different qualities of light. But when one zooms out, it just looks like a overgrown garden with a wild mishmash of weedy plants and flowers. I finally understood how impressionists got the concept of painting in the techniques and brushstrokes they started. Nature has so much more to offer than prim and proper flowerbeds. And the winds! And the waters! All these movements and interactions!
His paintings are a thousand times better than what I could take in a photograph.
The waterlily pond was overly crowded with people. I do wonder if they know what they were looking at. Everyone wanting to take a picture of the green bridge. Hehe, I snickered a little, I know it was one of the elements in his famous paintings, but I don’t really think it is all that significant in his works but it does make the composition beautiful, and I would imagine the shadow cast by it to be of much greater significance though. I saw the reflections of the surrounding nature and how it interacted with the water and its movements caused by the wind, how the waterlilies caught the filtered light through the weeping willows, the swaying leaves of the straight bamboos.
It is amazing how one person can highlight these perceptions which maybe no one even thought about. I am even more impressed by how he managed to express these through his strokes, the layered strokes and colours. Was there even a colour wheel? Did Mother Nature have a colour wheel?
It was this trip I learnt that there are some things we feel and some things we perceive and some thoughts that cross our minds – they may seem banal and mediocre as they breezed past us – but if we do share these feelings and emotions, it may invoke something else in another person. That is what movements (e.g. art movements) are about, aren’t they?
Thank you, Monet. It is through you that I relinquish the barriers that held me back from sharing my thoughts. It is through you that I am now confident and proud to blog and share, knowing that it can somewhat and in someway ignite something in another.