Sunday, September 23, 2007

Monet on Drawing

Gawler Ranges, Australia, WIP
colored pencil on drafting film, 12 in x 15 in
copyright J. Rose Welty

We threw our book-loving selves at the mercy of the local half-price book store on Saturday. I came up trumps. I found John House's Monet: Nature into Art (hardback) for $8. It has a few short biographical sections in the front and then proceeds into a more detailed examination of his work and working methods.

The first appendix is about his sketchbooks. Katherine made a claim in her post on Monet's sketchbooks that his drawings were mainly to gather compositional ideas. House agrees. He apparently examined Monet's canvases and claims that Monet rarely made any preliminary sketches to begin painting. There are two surviving exceptions to this rule, both being unfinished portraits. House suggests that these were experiments in a different way of working, one Monet quickly abandoned (House, p.230).

For me, I almost can't understand this. I suppose because paint is a new medium for me. But, to create forms with paint? How do you control that? Maybe it helped that he worked in oils and could scrape off whatever wasn't working. I also think it is interesting that Monet got his initial success as an artist with drawing caricatures. I wonder if in his earlier works, the more realist ones, he did do more preliminary sketches and studies.

One time Monet tried to do some drawings for publication (with a book of poems) but eventually said that he couldn't make anything of interest with them and backed out. He did do a few drawings of his paintings for magazine reproduction, but only as absolutely necessary (even sanctioning others to do it for him.) He said that he "didn't like to isolate drawing from colour." (House, p.227-8)

Above you see my progress on the Gawler Ranges.


Katherine said...

I think different people respond to different ways of working.

I think he could 'see' the drawing and therefore didn't need to do it. That's based on my view that anybody who can do really good caricatures can manipulate a line inside their head and envisage a finished version without needing to draw.

Belinda Lindhardt said...

Yes i was going to say the same thing as Katherine.. i feel like i can see what i am going to paint / draw before i do it .. my problem is translating what i see to canvas / paper but i can relate to the process.

This is looking so good Rose :) cant wait to see it done :)

Rose Welty said...

Hmm, yes ladies. I can often see values (and with increasing frequency colors) before I put them down. But, I don't think I could do it without first laying in an outline. There is a magic to that moment though, when I can start seeing it and I have to race for my fingers to match my mind! Then, art feels very good.

Thanks Belinda, allergies have been slowing me up, hopefully I'll soon be back to strength!