Claude Monet, Water Lilies
Monet’s Water Lilies is approximately a 250 series painting that is 78.74 x 502.36 inches large, enormous compared to me. By making his painting life size, Monet engulfs the viewer in his art and physically puts him in this work. This painting was done in oil paints but because Monet used so little paint, it looks almost like watercolors.
The subject matter of this painting is over all water lilies in a pond. This work of art would be considered a landscape subject matter and while at the time that is the second most important thing they paint in the Royal French Academy, the first being history paintings, this is not done in there typical style. Because the paint in this painting was put on so lightly and delicately it gives off a dream like feeling and doesn’t remind the viewer of a traditional landscape, something Monet tended to avoid.
There is no specific organization or arrangement to the composition of this work of art. I believe he just painted as he saw fit. There might be a generic overall focal point in the center but it is not a predominate one to his use of brush strokes and the size of the whole work. The viewers eyes are able to glaze over the entire painting and view it as a whole. There is no real sense of recession into space created into this piece. The painting is so unnaturalistic that with the combination of the color and the extreme cropping, viewers need to remind themselves that the subject matter they are looking at is water lilies and not just patches of color.
There is a single unseen light source coming from the top of the painting while not actually being in the painting. Monet was also able to do this painting without putting too much detail into any one place, everything has equal detail. However, even though the viewer is able to see the picture as a whole, the focal point might be around the middle due to the much lighter colors used there. There does happen to be some sense of normalcy in this painting. Meaning, there is nothing natural about the way Monet uses these colors in this piece but the repetition of brush strokes gives some order to the chaos. Because Monet made his paint so thin, he was able to give the painting a smoothed over look instead of a normal oil painting where the spectators eyes might get caught in the visible texture of the paint.
In this series of paintings the water is made up of mostly thin vertical strokes while the lilies are either circular swirls or dabs of color. This painting also has a fuzzy or blurry quality to the paint. While it adds a lot to the quality of the piece, the painting is like this because Monet, at the time, was suffering from cataracts which affected his sight. This also made it harder for him to distinguish lines in nature but made it easier for him to put less distinction in his lines in his painting.
Impressionists wanted the viewer to pay more attention to how the artist felt about what he or she was painting rather than focusing on the importance of what they were looking at. Monet does a wonderful job in portraying how he felt about this place he was painting. This work evokes a sense of peace with the use of composition, stroke quality, and color.