Thursday, April 21, 2011

a monet moment

Last week I painted the samples for our May studio classes.  I took photos of the Monet I painted so I could share them with you here.  (I know you all have just been itchin' to see another painting step by step) (:

Then my Internet connection crashed and I was left with everything in limbo for nine long days.  So I spent my time working on some other art projects, and of course my photography kept me busy until the technician finally showed up after a delay from some thunderstorm and tornado activity here in the heart of Dixie.

The Internet is back now and working, so let's paint!

Monet was a wonderful Impressionist master.  His paintings are well recognized by most people, especially his water lilies.  Monet painted LOTS of water lilies, in all colors of the spectrum.  For me, the uniqueness of his work is seen in the softness of his brush strokes.  When you look at Monet's work, you can interpret and envision all sorts of things in the blended colors.  That is what makes Monet's paintings so recognizable; they evoke emotion.  You look at his work and can almost feel the emotions he felt as he painted.  The lovely thing about Impressionism is that it leaves detail out, so you can see the pure colors and feel the emotions in your own way.  That was the brilliance of the Impressionist artists.  And why Impressionist art is still well loved by almost everyone who looks at it today.

Today I chose a warmer palette than Monet used.  I started with cobalt blue, bright green, white, black and fuchsia (magenta).  When I interpret artwork from one of the masters, I also print out the painting I am trying to capture, for reference.  My aim is not to copy, but to capture the essence of the artist.  My brushes today: #6 round, 1/2 inch flat wash or bright, and a 3/4 inch flat wash/bright.  I used mostly the #6 round and 1/2 inch flat wash, using the larger brush just for the first background blocking in.

Step 1- I make a rough outline in cobalt thinned with a bit of water of the areas of the lily pads.  This blocks in the placement for me.

Step 2- I start blending blue and white, laying in the water, using short brush strokes and being careful not to blend too much, or the shades and nuances of blue will turn to mud.

I continue with the background, adding magenta to the blue, along with white, to create a lavender mauve.  I stroke this into the bottom right corner.
Step 3- I work the right upper corner in with more magenta and a lot of white.  If you look at the original, you see what looks like a glop of light pink paint in the right upper corner.  I couldn't figure out why Monet would add that bit of jarring color to the top corner like that, and finally decided as I gazed at it, that it was a reflection from a bridge of either clouds or people.  I even thought it might be Monet sneaking a bit of a self portrait into the painting. 

Step 4- About this time I look at my palette.  I am not happy with the shades of blue, and feel it needs a warmer tone added, so I plop some phthalo (pronounced "thay-lo") onto my palette.  You can see the difference in shades of blue.  (The phthalo is in the middle, above the cobalt blue.)  Then I start to blend the blues with white and magenta and add the color back into the background. 

Step 5- I start adding lily pads.  This is where the fun begins for me, because I can let my creativity run rampant, and place those lily pads any old place I choose to.  I blend the blues with the bright green, because I don't want those lily pads looking like they will glow in the dark!  I make a flattened circle with a lighter shade of green, and add a bit of blue to some and a bit of white to others.  The reason I do this?  Because if I paint all those flat as a pancake circles the same green, it would end up looking like one big lily pad.   No depth, no dimension.

Step 6- After I add the lily pads, I begin to add darker green to the edges to give more dimension and definition.  Now I don't grab that paintbrush and start drawing circles around every lily pad, for the same reason I didn't shade every lily pad the same green.  This is where I start planning the placement of the lilies, adding green darkened with black to spots on the water and lily pads, where the shadows beneath the lilies will be.

Step 7- I throw some cadmium red deep onto the palette and add a bit of magenta to some of the red, then throw those lilies on that canvas.  Be careful, stop and look at the painting from about 4 feet away after every lily or two, or you will have it looking like a runaway rose bush with blooms all over the place.  Lilies are subtle, they bloom here and there, and have space around them.  The object is to make it look as it does in nature, random and beautiful.  When I finish the red, I start adding dabs of white and pink, to give the lilies depth.  Again, I am not doing paint by number, this painting has to have dimension with color because if not, it will look like one dimensional, flat and lifeless.

Notice those areas of dark green/black?  I added the lilies on top of them, and guess what?  They now look anchored to the pad or water, instead of floating in the air.

Step 8- Almost finished, I keep adding a little blue back to the water, and a little touch to the lily pads, and lilies, using the #6 round brush for the "detail" work.  I have to stop and look at it frequently, because I want the water to look as though there are trees reflected in it.

Finally I decide I am satisfied with the effect I want to achieve, and I sign my initials in the lower right corner.
I hope you have enjoyed this little demonstration/instruction.  Monet is very relaxing for me to paint, because there is no wrong way to do it.  It is my interpretation, and my work.  Monet painted in oils, and painting in acrylics to achieve the same effect was an enjoyable challenge for me. 

Vicky and I will be offering the Monet Red Lilies on our May calendar.  If you want to spend 3 hours relaxing in a fun atmosphere, I hope you will give Vicky a call and book a class.  Painting is food for the soul, and everyone CAN paint.  And we will show you how.  (And be sure to bring your favorite beverage...mine is wine!)  You can get the details on our website by clicking here and going to the calendar page. 

Have fun and LET'S PAINT!
(You can follow us on Twitter @TreasuresBy_You, and like our Facebook Fan Page at Treasures by You!)


  1. SOME REALLY GREAT COLORS now I can't wait to see your July classes :)
    Flamingos or pink?? I started following you.

  2. Thanks Jim! Both I think. : D thanks for the comment and the follow!


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