Thursday, September 6, 2007

Values in Monet

While I am very excited to be learning about Monet this month, and I couldn't wait to get started researching, I could wait to get started on the art. You see, I'm intimidated by Monet. This is probably because our preferred subject matters differ, our mediums differ, and well, he's just so good! So, I decided to start with something less than a full Monet piece.

Above you see a copy of the tree in the Women in the Garden, 1866 piece. It was rejected by the 1867 Salon. I have not included the women for now, I'm just trying to understand how he painted such a great tree.

As I was beginning this, Wendy Prior suggested that I try doing this as a grisaille, to better understand the values. So, I've done a black/white/gray version on the back of my drafting film (the top image). The second image is how that looks on the front of the film where I will put in the colors. The idea here is to get a hold of the values before I get distracted with the colors and forget all about the values.

The eagle-eyed among you are ready to point out that I don't have any dark darks in there. (Hey, at least I recognize it this time! :-) That's only because I am a little afraid of going totally hard-core black on the back, because I am not sure how the colors will go on the front side. Last night I went to bed crushed that I had just gone way too dark all over the place and wasted a bunch of time. This morning, I'm still not entirely sure that I haven't just gone and made a mess, but I'm going to go ahead and try the colors on the front now. I can always flip it over and rework or erase what isn't working. This isn't going to be a finished piece, this is technique practice and exploration.

Finally, Monet:
  • the paint might give the impression of being slapped on, but alot of thought went into those slaps.
  • Monet was very careful to have darks and lights near each other - to force the tree trunk forward.
  • This tree is massed in with values very carefully. He creates the tree, trees behind it, and bushes around it in a consistent space. (Most of which you don't see above.)
  • In the original there are four women around the tree. In that respect, I do see a minor flaw with this. The women share space, but I think it is clear that the same woman posed for all four ladies (Camille, his mistress and later wife). The figures don't quite "join up" or look like they are in the same space at the same time. But, it is a great painting of Monet's, in my opinion.


Wendy said...

Rose I think it's looking really great, seriously I do! I think you can probably safely go darker but I also think you're smart to wait and see how it looks with the colours on top and how it all reacts together first. That's the beauty with doing your grisaille on the back of the film, you can erase it entirely, or partially if it doesn't work for you. Looking seriously great so far!

Rose Welty said...

Wendy, thanks! I really owe you for that suggestion! I agree on the darks, I'll show you tomorrow. I'm just putting on darker darks on the front. Good fun. Seriously, I owe you. :-)

Katherine said...

Did you see my post yesterday> I should have referenced this post - I knew you'd done a tree and forgotten is was from that painting.

Anyway, the point is that apparently he had a trench dug so that he could work on a canvas which could be raised or lowered.

Rose Welty said...

Katherine, I did see your post yesterday, I thought it was great, I was just too busy to comment. I did know about the trench. Actually, that detail along with others that I have read really changed my perspective on Monet. He worked just as hard as those who gave a polished look to their completed canvases, he just didn't put the work into masking the brushstrokes. I wrote down a few quotes from my reading, a later post this week. He was really a fascinating artist - as well as creating fascinating works.