My Year of Monet – Paintings

Throughout 2019, I studied and blogged about Claude Monet's life and works; and, I used this study to influence my own painting style.

My reading was highlighted by Ross King's superb biography of the Giverny years, Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies, Paul Hayes Tucker's perspectives in Claude Monet: Life and Art, Charles F. Stuckey's comprehensive Monet: Water Lilies, Daniel Wildenstein's authoritative, four-volume biography and Catalogue Raisonné, personal accounts by friends, and academic studies. I also watched videos of lectures and attended two major exhibitions: "Monet: The Late Years" in San Francisco and "Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature," a large, career retrospective in Denver.

This inspired me to paint more pictures in one year—34 canvases—than I ever had in the past. Most of these were given away in December.

I started 2019 by finishing an 8-foot-wide diptych composition using a photo I took at Monet's pond in Giverny seven years earlier. As this was the start of my year's study, it was appropriate to include the far bank disappearing to the horizon. Although present in his inital paintings of the pond and Japanese bridge, Monet eliminated the background in virtually all of his later works except as it reflected on the water.

Click to enlarge these details of the 2019 diptych:

Early Months of 2019

 

While I started reading Monet biographies and studying his painting techniques, I finished three small groups of paintings. Compare these with the ones that come later! The three Terramar Beach pictures were done simultaneously. I've separately blogged about the Santa Barbara and Anza-Borrego Superbloom during the year.

 

Surfs Up at Terramar #1 Tomás Herrera-Mishler, San Diego, CA 2019 • 30 x 24
Anza Borrego Super Bloom #1 ~ Annie Moyer, Brooklyn, NY 2019 • 20 x 16
Surfs Up at Terramar #2 ~ Rick Bishop, Denver, CO 2019 • 30 x 24
Anza Super Bloom #2 (Ocotillos) ~ Art and Rochelle Lipson, Cottonwood Heights, UT 2019 • 20 x 16
Surfs Up at Terramar #3 (Self-Portrait) 2019 • 30 x 24
Anza Super Bloom #3 (The Couple) 2019 • 20 x 16
Hendry's Beach, Santa Barbara ~ Larissa Rice, Temecula, CA 2019 • 24 x 18
Hendry's Arroyo Burro, Santa Barbara ~ Chris & Shery Walker, Santa Clarita, CA 2019 • 24 x 18

The Paint-Like-Monet Project

 

After months of reading and then spending a day at "Monet: The Late Years" studying canvases, I began a Project with six new pictures of water lilies and gardens using some of his later career techniques. As I explain in my blog, I chose colors Monet preferred in deference to my own favorites.

 

Water Lilies in Giverny ~ Scot Cheatham, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 48 x 36 • 2019

Click to enlarge these details of the above painting:

De Young Water Lilies ~ Vishakha Gigler, San Diego 48 x 36 • 2019

Click to enlarge these details of the above painting:

Mexican Sage Brush – Charlie Cohn, Seattle, WA 40 x 30 • 2019

Click to enlarge these details of the above painting:

Palisades Park Santa Monica ~ Ian & Maria Blanche, Los Angeles, CA 30 x 20 • 2019
Yellow Lily 30 x 24 • 2019
Giverny Flower Garden ~ Art & Beatriz Jacobson, Murietta, CA 36 x 18 • 2019

Click to enlarge these details of the above painting:

I followed the "Paint Like Monet" project with four more waterlilies, based on a photoshoot at Balboa Park. This time, I tried to keep it loose and free without trying to use his techniques or palette. Instead, I varied the colors in each of these pictures:

Water lilies in Balboa Park #1 ~ Daniel Smith, Austin, TX 2019 • 24 x 18
Water lilies in Balboa Park #2 ~ Annie Levowitz, Tijuana, Mexico 2019 • 24 x 18
Water lilies in Balboa Park #3 ~ Anna Shreve, El Paso, TX 2019 • 24 x 18

 

 

 

 

 

When people started requesting from the Available Paintings offered in November, I decided to paint one more water lily to give to someone who wanted a picture but didn't get one.

Water lilies in Balboa Park #4 ~ Amelia Eastman, La Jolla, CA 2019 • 24 x 18
Water lilies in Balboa Park #5 ~ Amy & Tom Booth, San Diego, CA 2019 • 20 x 16

Cascade Mountains

Over the summer, my son, Charlie did a lot of hiking in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. These are three paintings I did using his photos:

The Enchantments (WA) ~ Tom & Christine Habib, Carlsbad, CA 2019 • 20 x 16
Uncle Ben Hiking to Hart's Pass (WA) 2019 • 20 x 16
Windy Pass (WA) ~ Beth Sweitzer, Scarborough, ME 2019 • 20 x 16

Morro Rock Series

My wife, Lindsey, turned 70 in October, and we celebrated with some close family members in Morro Bay. Over the course of a couple weeks, I recreated the same Morro Rock composition in different conditions, reminiscent of Monet's haystack and Rouen Cathedral serieses. The first was a quick study, completed in about an hour. This established the layout, which I sketched onto canvases of varioius sizes but the same dimensions. Then, I returned to the scene to photograph weather conditions, which I interpreted in the paintings.

Each picture has its own story. The fog effect in #2 uses pastels similarly to one of Monet's Rouen palettes, it was dedicated in memory of "Anna" who loved light purple. For the sunset in #3, I moved the sun further to the south so that it could fit. (See the diptych further down for the sun's actual location.)

Lindsey called me from a walk alerting me to the fog, and I dropped my paintbrush and hurried out to the beach (aggravating a tender Achilles tendon). I took the requisite photo and hobbled back to house. In #5, I exaggerated the peach color, but that's how I saw the fog as it blanketed the bottom of Morro Rock. The largest of the group is #4, which I thought of as my typical approach.

Morro Rock Series #1 (Étude) 2019 • 20 x 16
Morro Rock Series #3 (Sunset) ~ Brian Pickett, La Jolla, CA 2019 • 14 x 11
Morro Rock Series #2 (Fog Effect) ~ Martha Levine, Camp Hill, PA 2019 • 14 x 11
Morro Rock Series #5 (Fog Rolling In) ~ Johanna McShane, Lafayette, CA 2019 • 20 x 16
Morro Rock Series #4 ~ Michael & Jordonna Dores, Morro Bay, CA 2019 • 30 x 24

When we returned home from our trip, I began an eight-foot-wide diptych as a sort of "Grand Finale" homage to Monet's "Grandes Décorations," the massive murals he painted during the last 20 years of his life. I wrote more about this in "My Year of Monet #6."

The canvas on the left is the same layout as the rest of the series, and the sun setting on the right is accurate for the relationship between the rock and sun, unlike #3 (above).

Morro Rock Series Diptych (left) 2019 • 48 x 36
Morro Rock Series Diptych (right) 2019 • 48 x 36

Details of the Diptych

Denver Snow

Although the diptych (above) was finished on the last day of 2019, I also completed these snowy scenes at the end of December. One of my goals while in Denver for the exhibition, "Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature," was to find wintery settings. These were painted when I got home, and I later wrote about them in "My Year of Monet #6."

Snowy Central Park Denver ~ Dina Good, Lakewood, CO 2019 • 18 x 14
Rory in the Snow ~ Rory & Louisa Donaldson, Denver, CO 2019 • 20 x 16
Central Park Denver (Snowy Sunset) 2019 • 30 x 15