Painting During the Pandemic
What’s going on?
The world right now is chaotic and changing every day. It’s hard to keep sane with the news that we are constantly pounded with. Most of us are confined to our homes and are beginning to feel restless and worried. In a time like this, it is important to keep calm and stay home. I send my thoughts and well-wishes out to all those who are affected by this pandemic.
What am I doing?
You may be wondering … why at a time like this, I am taking it easy and creating art. At this time, it’s important to resist the urge to panic and feel restless … and art can help you do so. Appreciating and making art are perfect vehicles for doing so.
Although my artwork is not solving the crisis we have at hand, being able to passively make someone relax during this trying time, even if only for a few minutes, is very valuable. Art for me is a source of comfort and calmness and distraction, so I hope it is for you as well. Stay positive.
I think it’s important to share the process of my art with you all. Today I’m going to be painting as a small escape, taking you to Monet’s Garden in Giverny, France, far away from the troubles and worries that we are facing.
I’m going to be doing a study of a painting by the French artist, Claude Monet.
Monet, born in Paris in 1814, and later Raised in Le Havre is very well known for his beautiful impressionist sceneries.
As a child, Monet hated school. He couldn’t bear to be locked indoors for 4 hours per day. Imagine how he would feel being forced to quarantine like us.
His style of painting in Plein-air, which he learned from Eugene Boudin, is indicative of this desire to be outside and free.
Artists during this time had very strong observational skills and were able to depict scenes, people, and objects they saw with pretty incredible accuracy. When they painted portraits, it was as if that person was brought in front of you as you looked at the canvas. When they painted sceneries, it’s as if you were taken to and standing in that beautiful hilltop or valley.
It was when he went to Paris that he realized how much potential the act of artmaking had. He visited the Louvre and was so impressed by the works of the old masters.
Monet saw Paris as an endless source of beauty and inspiration. He wanted to capture every scene and every place he saw in paint. He, along with his fellow artist comrades painted endlessly and displayed their art for the public to see.
To those who see his artwork he was surrounded by endless beauty and happiness, by the nature of his paintings, but in reality … he lived a large portion of his life struggling to make money and make ends meet for himself, his wife, and his son Jean.
Sick of living in poverty, he had sent his wife and child away to the countryside, and he was forced to leave Paris for England, and the Netherlands seeking refuge from the Franco-Prussian war. At this point, he didn’t even have the help of his parents and had to do everything in his ability to make ends meet during a very difficult time in history. He eventually came back to France, to Argenteuil,… to live nominally with his family. This is where he created some of his most memorable paintings, not to mention he had another baby, Michel.
He felt quite helpless, with not a penny to his name and running out of credit in every shop he frequented. Yet this was the time in his life when he felt he was able to work the best. Despite having nothing, he found peace and small joys in the country. He found the beauty of solidarity and the beauty in the change of seasons. He worked endlessly and came home to his happy little family.
Being still in contact with his fellow artists, Renoir, Pissaro and Sisely, he was able to exhibit his paintings of countryside life in their joint and private Société anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs et graveurs. He was creating profusely, sharing his art, and living minimally. He was happy.
But this happiness didn’t last long, because his family began to fall ill, and he didn’t have the money to take care of them. Needless to say, he didn’t have the money to buy the art supplies he needed to paint, despite his rigor for creating.
It wasn’t long before his wife Camille passed away. Probably at the lowest point of his life, he took it upon himself to move away. He moved in with the family of Ernest Hoschede, closer to the sea, in Vetheuil, and sought some comfort and inspiration. He created some of his best works during this time. He gained a newfound appreciation for nature and began to embrace his loneliness. He decided he wanted to show people how delightful the sights he saw were. Alice Hoschede took care of his children as he worked.
As Monet endured his emotional turmoil, Ernest was troubled with his financial struggles. He ended up leaving for Belgium. Monet, Alice, and the children struggled for two years to find peace together. The emotional roller coaster that they were on together ended up bringing them to Giverny. Hidden away in Normandy, this small hideaway is what became Monet’s paradise.
They rented and then bought the home in Giverny, and put all of their efforts into decorating its garden. Following the death of her husband, Alice and Monet married. From the confines of their small abode, Money produced countless paintings of his garden and his pond. This painting I’m recreating here is the Japanese bridge he had amidst his trees above his iconic pond of water lilies.
Though the world around him was in constant flux and he endured several periods of turmoil, Monet made the best of the situations he was in. He never left his craft of painting and made beautiful art. He made art so that others could enjoy the beauty that he saw in the world. Even during the lowest points of his life, when he barely made it by, he continued to create to share his vision with the public. He used every opportunity to express himself. The art of painting was his solace, but it was also an escape for those who viewed his art. He was able to transport people to different places, and different seasons. He was revolutionary.
It’s almost funny, that the life of an artist can sometimes be very solitary. This confinement that we’re in right now because of the pandemic isn’t very different from how we artists went about our lives and work before all this chaos started. Not having the option to go out however feels debilitating. I’m going to do my best to contribute positively during these hard times, whether that is by sharing my work with you all or teaching you to create as well. Right now is the perfect time to make art, and being cooped up by yourself isn’t too big of a hindrance to the process, so I urge you to try as well.