Monday, March 5, 2012

Watching a Master at work - Claude Monet

I saw this short video on the Artist Daily website, and was captivated by Claude Monet's working style.

From the site:

As a landscape artist, I naturally expected Monet to observe his subject. Yet, the constancy with which he observes is astonishing. Except for the time he takes to clean his brush, he turns to his subject every two or three seconds.

Monet and the other Impressionists abandoned the approach of blending colors over large areas in favor of placing individual strokes side by side, and allowing the eye to mix those spots of color at a distance. Here we witness the action that produces these daubs and dashes of "broken color."

At certain moments, the strokes are fairly short "dashes." Other times he makes longer vertical strokes. There is no blending or rubbing, just one thrust of the brush. He holds the brush fairly far back along the shaft and extends his arm, reaching to the canvas. After just a few strokes, he returns to the palette for more color.

Monet pauses for a fraction of a second to choose his brush. Monet thinking—caught on film! He uses four brushes. They appear to be the same size, so almost certainly the various brushes were assigned different colors.

One brush also appears to be unusual—quite pointy with the bristles forming a triangular shape. Perhaps it was a brush he had custom made or it was a regular brush that had worn down.

Here we get a glimpse of the artist's palette. Given how "loaded" with paint the surface of his paintings were, I was a little surprised not to see larger daubs of pigment squeezed out on Monet's palette.

Stance and orientation: When painting outdoors (or with any subject, for that matter) it is often recommended that you put your subject as close to your line of sight as possible. This reduces the amount of head turning necessary. Here, though, Monet is turning a full 90 degrees to the right to view his subject. This was likely because of the size of the canvas. Had he propped it up in front of himself, it would have blocked his view.

And here is the video... Enjoy!!

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