22 April 2009

Meet My New Friend: Claude

"It took me time to understand my waterlilies... I had planted them for the pleasure of it; I grew them without ever thinking of painting them... A landscape doesn't permeate one's being in one day... "
~ Claude Monet

The gardens at Giverny are singing. The flora and fauna are awash with color and vibrancy and life. The return of the water lilies makes the heart sing.

Second only to Claude Monet's love of painting was his talents as a Master Gardener. When Monet bought the land near his home in 1893, he envisioned a horticulturalist's heaven. Gardening was considered an art in 19th century society and the evidence of his talent is still with us today. And although he didn't start out with the gardens as his muse, he soon realized the beauty that awaited him right outside his door and for 30 years he produced the most prolific symphony of sights found in his garden.

"Suddenly I had the revelation of how magical my pond is. I took up my palette. Since that time I have scarcely had any other model."
~ Claude Monet

Giverny is comprised of winding paths with drooping willows and a visual feast of flowers and plants. But the most recognizable feature is the water lily pond. The garden is located near a train trestle and every day Monet sent a servant in a row boat out into the pond to gently wipe the leaves and lily flowers clean of the soot that was prevalent from the passing trains. He was a devotee of Japanese gardens and the bridges that span the pond show his love of that architecture. His love of his garden and the care with which he cultivated it a great legacy to the world.
Monet produced over 250 different studies of the water lilies on the pond. The light and weather provided an ever changing palette from which to paint. Near the end of his life, Monet could not have seen these treasured gardens as well due to the fact that he suffered from cataracts. So he painted from memory and the canvases grew ever larger. What we see as a series of small posters in a local shop to be framed actually took up entire walls. The effect of the most recognizable water lily studies is breathtaking in their enormity. I had the good fortune to see the Monet exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute way back when I was in college with my mother who was an art history major. We waited in line for hours shuffling through a maze of other rooms just for a close up glimpse of his genius.
It was so worth the wait.

"The motif's essential is the mirror of water whose aspect is constantly being modified by the changing sky reflected in it, and which imbues it with life and movement."
~ Claude Monet

As part of my Master Artist collection, Monet was at the top of my list. And what other iconic painting is there to represent the Impressionist movement than his Water Lilies.

Coincidentally, my good friend Pram had given me some neglected jewelry pieces that had broken and asked me to salvage them into a statement piece for her. These metal pieces are not precious metal, but they are precious to Pram, so I wanted to put them into something special for her. They are painted with various hues that just so happen to be recurring colors in the Water Lilies series...the brilliant green of the weeping willow leaves...the deep teal of the lily pads...the soft blue tufts of the lily flowers...the pops of salmon flower buds...the deep blue shadows of the pond...I just knew that this upcycling project was the perfect vehicle to bring the Water Lilies to life.
When seeking some inspiration for this piece, I stumbled upon a blog written entirely in French about the gardens at Giverny. Now I took a little bit of French in high school (actually, I got A's for the lovely bulletin boards I made for Frere Robert). I was never very good at conjugating verbs and can barely speak beyond the simple 'my name is...' line, but I can generally read it out loud with great inflection and cadence. I noticed that a recent post was titled "Le Chant des Fleurs" and I knew vaguely what that meant. So I grabbed a paragraph and headed over to the Google Translator and attempted to let Google tell me what they were saying.

What the author was conveying is basically that the gardens at Giverny are now in full bloom. And those blooming plants are like an orchestra that is working together to create the most beautiful symphony of color and light. In essence, the flowers are singing, and our French guides were celebrating that.

What better name for this piece than "Le Chant des Fleurs" or the "The Singing Flowers."

You can see my attempt to interpret this iconic series of paintings below. I know that Pram agrees that this is truly a one-of-a-kind statement piece with specifically selected gemstones that were selected as a complement to her treasures.

(And yes, Pram, you do deserve something so pretty.)

A ripply green and blue vintage German glass cabochon set in a sterling silver box clasp from A Grain of Sand...Bali sterling silver star spacers and teeny tiny sterling silver dot spacers...teal blister pearls that mimic the lily pads and pale blue coin pearls like the flower tufts...bright green apatite nuggets as the weeping willow leaves touch the deep blue goldstone water...and soft cherry quartz faceted rondelles are like the fresh spring buds.

So, how did I do in my interpretation of Monet's Water Lilies? I am hoping that I have done my new friend Claude justice.

Do tell!
Which would you rather do...paint or garden?

"I'm good for nothing except painting and gardening."
~ Claude Monet


Judy said...

The necklace is breathtaking! Claude would be very pleased with your interpretation as will your friend.

Anne said...

Garden first, then photos and finally painting. Painting is the hardest!

lisaschaos said...

I always find it interesting to hear how artists get their ideas, their inspiration. :) I love your creation! And the inspiration behind it. I'm sure Pram will love it!

linda said...

this piece is captivating and so like Monet's lovely use of color....you are beautifully gifted!

and what a wonderful post about one of my favorite artists!


Melissa J. Lee said...

Gorgeous piece, Erin! By the way, I was just catching up on Jennifer Heynen's blog - congratulations on winning the Jangles contest!

Lorelei said...

w.o.w. this is a show-stopper!

Stacey said...

So beautiful Erin! I think my answer would change with the day - today I'd say gardening because I am ready for spring!

Deryn Mentock said...

Gorgeous!! I've been so immersed in my little world of jewelry making, I've missed out on your last few pieces. What creative energy you've stirred up!

pramela said...

Yes, Pram does love it... I am thrilled, enthralled and have fallen in love for real with Monet...


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