Painting in Monet’s Garden

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Painting in Monet’s Garden
I am always filled with excitement when taking a group on a trip to paint in Monet’s Garden…  My students arrived on September 4th and our driver, Allain, picked us up at Charles de Gaulle airport and drove us the scenic route to Giverny.   Allain is the owner of a small art gallery in Giverny, but he also doubles as a taxi driver.  He was proud to point out the rolling verdant countryside, the pastures, the freshly mowed hayfields, and the rolls of hay that punctuated the fields; we were also treated to a tour through the ancient winding stone streets of LaRouch Gerund before going on to Giverny. Our lodge was on rue Blanche Hoshede Monet, named after the wife of Claude Monet.  I would be instructing students in watercolor and acrylics and we would be painting daily in Monet’s Garden, a dream of many painters.  We had studied Monet – who has inspired many a painter with his palette of limited colors and his impressionistic technique – and loved his work. The streets of Giverny are so picturesque.  At each turn there are gardens:  a flower garden, or a vegetable garden lined with rose bushes, and the gardens of the American Museum.  Then, as we arrived in front of our lodge, we were welcomed by a garden of hanging pots of red geraniums.  The sounds of a farm yard around in back of the lodge (near the painting atelier studio) produced their own unique bonjour; chickens were clucking, a rooster was crowing, and even the subtle thumping noise of a bounding kangaroo all formed a chorus.   A grand proud male peacock strutted and opened his tail feathers to fan a brilliant hello. Such was our arrival!   After unpacking and being driven to the Monet’s Garden – only a block away – we were able to enter Garden after the public had left for the evening.  With the benefit of the Normandy light, we photographed, sketched and generally prepared ourselves for eleven days of painting in one of the most famous gardens in the world. The flowers seemed to be woven into patterns of warm and cool colors.  As a colorist painter, a lover of brilliant patterns of color, a plein air artist and an instructor, I felt so honored to have the opportunity to teach and to paint in this very special place.  The beauty of it was resplendent, yet when it was quiet (and available only to the few of us), a special peaceful aura settled through us.  It was the most beautiful painting experience that I can recall. Not only did I teach in the garden, we took many trips in the countryside and the nearby village of Vernon.  I love painting in markets almost as much as painting in gardens.   On Wednesday morning, as I waited for my students to scan the freshly displayed delights, I enjoyed painting a little sketch of the outdoor market from a coffee shop.  I arrived early to find a good spot to view the market and to watch the vendors setting up their colorful displays of fresh vegetables, cheeses, olives, fruit, and often to taste some offered samples.  The flavor and the hustle and bustle of the local folks doing their daily shopping gave me the feeling that I was gaining insights into the customs of each town or village. There is so much to do and see, so much beauty, so much to paint, and to capture on our sketch pads, on our canvases and in our hearts.  Each day brought even more fun and painting experiences.  And there are also things to do relatively close by:  two of my students took the train into Paris – just 45 minutes away – to view the city on a double-decker sight seeing bus, and, of course, to shop for some lovely underwear and perfume.  The museums would wait for another day!   We all know that we will want to return to paint in France, as there are not enough days, enough sunrises and enough sunsets.  We want more light, more time, and more of Monet’s Garden. The Café Baudy in Giverny   The Cafe Baudy is an historical tavern near Monet’s Garden.  It has been preserved in much the same manner as when artists who came to visit Monet and to paint alongside him used it.  One of the artists who painted and stayed there was an American named John Singer Sargent.  While the garden behind the Tavern is spectacular, the star of the show is the studio.  Still intact, the ruminants of easels, paint pigments, and half finished paintings are scattered throughout, collecting the dust of so many years.  It looks as if Pissaro just stepped out for lunch downstairs and will return shortly to complete his paintings.  I painted the entrance to the studio as a demonstration for my students on watercolor paper. Each student was working at a different artistic level and often even in adifferent medium.  Some were working in acrylics, but nevertheless, when teaching, the elements of a painting are much the same.  For example, the composition, emotional quality, color mixing, and balance remain constant.  After spending the morning painting, we gathered for lunch outside under umbrellas in the courtyard.  The view of the countryside was splendid, and once again, while sketching, painting, photographing, all were inspired.  How marvelous that even as we were eating omelets, and tarte aux pommes for dessert, we knew…
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  • Lynda Pyka
    2018-05-27 16:28:58
    Lynda Pyka
    Good morning, I was so much hoping to bring my paints on july 2nd too just paint in the gardens. I am a professional artist and have friends who went and said the hours are 6pm to 8pm and that I must ask ahead of time. I am so wishing you say that is fine and put me on list. thank you Lynda Pyka