My Colorful Light: Claude Monet

January 05, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

My Colorful Light: Claude Monet


"My king is the sun, my republic is water, my people are flowers and leaves,”  ~Claude Monet


Monet’s time was spent better as lent to himself, which often required friends to offer a purse or loaf of bread. In Monet’s own time, he was an outcast among many others venturing into the “detestable” Impressionist movement.


These, such deviants, had the gall to simply experiment with painting shadows and light into landscapes with colored pigments, rather than adhering to the revered Realist/Raphael tradition. These visionaries recognized that neither of these existed in nature: shadow, nor light: neither all pure black, nor pure white.


I admire Monet for many reasons: least of all the Impressionist paintings he rendered; with the exception of one.* I pick the top two reasons why I admire Monet, among so many others. 


  1. This self-educated botanist created water lily hybrids himself. He did this in order to fill his own ponds which surrounded his Givrney home.  Hybrids were necessary in order for these flowers to thrive in the non-native habitat, as well as to lend a variety of colored blooms.


  1. In older years, while living at Givrney, warfare rattled his very studio door.  Soldiers paid no mind to the old man, however.  They understood who he was and that he was no threat.  With so many tasks tending gardens and his painting, Monet left his own work to the wayside many times.  While war ensued around him at Givrney, he left his work in order to tend to injured soldiers at a nearby hospital.  He also graced them with fresh vegetables and fruits from his own gardens.


*My most revered painting of Monet’s is that “Jeanne-Marguerite Lecadre in the Garden”, done in 1866, which includes one of Claude’s favored llamas.  See the image Here.


Very few people know that Monet kept a few llamas to keep the grass in his garden trimmed.  Although it is certainly not one of his loveliest pieces, it is my favorite because it shows what others might feel is an unsightly addition to the otherwise lovely scene.  What others may have found garish, I find it amusing, lively, and lovely in that oddity.  This tells me that humans- even with his "outcast" status within his own lifetime and despite his struggles within life such as deep depressions-are more beautiful for imperfections.  The world is full of love,light, life, and celebration of that was honored well by Claude Monet. 


These few bits of information are so telling of Monet’s character and lifestyle.  He had a zest for life, a compassion for other humans, and love of nature so deeply that he labored heavily in developing his gardens.  All this labor was in the dedication to simply plant his easel outdoors and place his beloved so tenderly to canvas.  I like to think of him standing there simply gazing the shadows and light before him, and order to see the nuance: nothing is pure black or pure white-a true optimist. 

A small note is that he would at times get up in the morning to go out, see poor weather conditions, and return to bed for the day.  He’s been suggested to have suffered a unipolar or bipolar condition (depression or wide mood swings).  So many artists are attributed with a supposed mental health condition, and lending that some type of mystique.  This one writing, sitting here, knows the truth in that regard: there is such a pain in deep depressions.  Knowing Monet rose above that pitch black to see the nuance of color in shadows uplifts me.