I expect that if you decided to enter “Mastermind” most of you would have several subjects from which to choose.
For me it would have to be Monet. I admire both the artist and his work. During 21 years living in France, we often visited his house in Giverny. The gardens are inspiringly beautiful, full of colour in all seasons. The “Clos Normand” lies behind the pretty pink house. Beyond it, separated by the little road is the water garden *Jardin d’Eau”. Of course you can also visit the Monet Museum. We were amazed when we first saw the huge water lily series. I remember we were equally surprised when we saw how small the Mona Lisa is!
Monet was born in 1840 in Le Havre. That’s another place that holds good memories for me as we lived there for three months. We were there when Prince Charles married Diana.
As a child, Monet loved to draw caricatures of local personalities. Accepted at a private art school, Monet studied with Renoir and Sisley amongst other future Impressionists. They developed a spontaneous style of painting where colour was more important than the subject. Until this era all paint brushes were round. It was the change to flat brushes that allowed the mastery of light on water. Working quickly allowed them to capture its spirit.
A private man, nevertheless Monet and his second wife Alice, loved to entertain. Their very talented cook Marguerite, used only fresh produce. Guests were never invited to dinner. Lunch was served promptly at 11.30am so that Monet could start painting again before the light began to fade.
Amongst the frequent visitors was Cézanne who lived in Aix en Provence. It shows how much Monet was appreciated when his friends travelled so far to visit Giverny. Cézanne first came to recognition through his paintings of the mountain Ste Victoire. When I lived alone in Aix for a year, my studio overlooked it. I could have been a Cézanne guide. They followed brass studs in the pavements to retrace his steps and walked ahead of the tourists carrying a little flag!
After Monet had completed many of his now famous works of art he said, “Every time I start a canvas I think I am going to create a masterpiece but it never happens”. What humility!
A workman, looking at one of my paintings, asked “Is that a Monet?” Oh that it was. I should be so lucky!
I wish you all many fulfilling activities.