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Monet's Artwork Blooms

MommyO guides you along mini-adventures in fine art and fun art!

Explore Chrysanthemums (1897) by Oscar-Claude Monet.

Chrysanthemums (1897) by Monet as inspiration for Monet's Artwork Blooms blog
'Chrysanthemums' (1897) — Oscar-Claude Monet — Oil on Canvas

“I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.” Oscar-Claude Monet

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Before looking at Oscar-Claude Monet’s beautiful artwork entitled Chrysanthemums (1897), let’s start by discovering a little bit about the artist himself.

Claude Monet, as he is commonly referred to, is most well-known for being a member of a league of French artists known as ‘Impressionists.’ As a matter of fact, as one of the very first Impressionist painters of his time, Monet has been dubbed ‘The Father of Impressionism!’

However, he did have another lesser-known claim to fame, and it had to do with his passion. Can you imagine what Monet’s second claim to fame was? Here are two clues: his second claim to fame is why we say, “Monet’s artwork blooms,” and why Monet is quoted as saying, “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”

If you guessed that Monet’s claim to fame and passion — second to art — was flowers and gardening, you are 100% correct. We’ll learn more about Monet’s blooming passion in just a little bit.

Impressionism’ is — one of the more short-lived art movements in history lasting from 1865-1885 — a mere 20 years. However, coupled with the invention of the camera, it soon became a very influential 20 years — after which the world would never look upon art in the same light, literally.

Prior to the invention of the camera and the Impressionist movement of the late 19th century, artists strived to paint everyday scenes with the reality of what we would expect to see in a modern-day photograph. As a matter of fact, people thought of art as a sort of visual record of history before we began to think of photos as such. The invention and mass production of the camera changed all of that and allowed artists to paint in a different light.

And paint in a different light they did!

Impressionists were more concerned with painting the light and the color of a moment in time rather than depicting every little detail of the subjects they were observing. As a result, they moved from inside stuffy studios to paint in the great outdoors where an abundance of natural light flooded their subjects. Because they were most concerned with capturing light and how it reflected off objects and affected color, they had to work very quickly as natural outdoor light changes by the minute.

Therefore Impressionists painted very quickly. They were always trying to paint their subjects before the light changed. Because light changes minute-by-minute, they used very rapid, thick — quite messy — brush strokes and started with a palette of pure unmixed paint colors, mixing them directly on the canvas to save time. Also in a time-saving effort, rather than painting every detail, they painted only a glimpse — in other words, an ‘impression’ — of what the person, object, or landscape looked like to them.

Monet’s passion for everything gardening and flowers inspired him to create a floral esplanade at his homestead in Giverny [zhee-vayr-nee], France — where he spent forty-three years, from 1883 to 1926. There — with the help of his family and six gardeners — Monet composed each of his spectacular gardens as he would have composed any one of his magnificent paintings. As the story goes, after Monet first planted his floral masterpieces, he left to travel Europe and didn’t return until the Giverny gardens had fully matured — at which time he began painting them.

What makes Monet different from other Impressionists of his time is that because of his obvious passion for flowers, his artwork blooms. He often painted flowers and as a result painted many works based on the flowers within his sprawling gardens.

The gardens — just to the north of Paris, France — are now maintained just as Monet kept them. His love of gardening — as well as color — is evident from the sheer complexity of the landscape and its palette.

Monet painted this particular version of Chrysanthemums in 1897. However, it wasn’t just chrysanthemums that Monet prolifically painted. He loved to paint all flowers — geraniums, water lilies, gladiolus, daisies, Jerusalem artichokes, dahlias, tulips, poppies, azaleas — you name the flower, and Claude Monet probably painted it. With so many beautiful floral paintings to explore, you can be sure there will be many more Monet mini-adventures to come.

Monet painted flowers both growing in the garden as well as those cut and arranged in vases. Clearly the flowers seen in ‘Chrysanthemums’ are growing in a garden because Monet has given us a glimpse — an impression — of the green vegetation surrounding the delicate flowers.

The flowers are not terribly detailed and therefore don’t look exactly as they would in real life. Rather they appear to be an impression of what Monet actually saw when painting the flowers. It is apparent that he was painting the light that shined upon the flowers — in what would be called ‘highlights’ — rather than the flower petals themselves. Look closely at the painting and you will see differing shades and tints of certain colors. The lightest tints are the highlights.

It’s easiest to see the highlights on the darkest flowers — in this case the red. The light pink areas on the dark red flowers are the highlights and where Monet painted the light reflecting from the flower petals.

There are so many beautiful colors within this work of art — yellow, blue, green, orange, pink, peach, white, etc. Color can often be used to emphasize — in order to draw in the eye — a specific part of a piece of artwork. Monet used bright white in the center of the canvas to draw the viewer’s eye into the artwork. Look away from the artwork for a minute and then look back — to where in the painting is your eye drawn first?

Learning facts about Impressionism, meeting Monet — the father of the art movement — and discovering his blooming artwork was very entertaining!

For a fun, hands-on artsy craft — designed to help you plant your own Chrysanthemum garden using brightly-colored sheets of paper — check out Paper Art Chrysanthemums. It's any day art with everyday materials!

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