So I painted in Monet’s gardens in Giverny, where, of course, Monet himself painted. And I was duly inspired--more to come on those times! But as part of the workshop, we explored other small towns of Upper Normandy. One day, we visited Vethueil (and don’t ask me to pronounce it, I have only just managed to learn to spell it), where Monet lived prior to Giverny, and where, legend has it, he left with his family in the middle of the night when he couldn’t pay the rent, leaving paintings for payment.
From there, we took a small ferry across the river Seine to Lavacourt, where, on the banks of the river, we set up our easels to look back across the river and paint the view of Vethueil--the same vantage point Monet painted from, over a century earlier.
A small cafe, moss growing on its thatched roof, overlooked the riverbank where we painted, and was probably where Monet grabbed a bite of lunch, as did we.
Not much has changed of the village view, except that the trees are taller, and the boats that ply the river have motors instead of sails.
What was it that so caught my imagination about painting there, right there, where Monet worked? What made that day, that spot, different?
Somehow, a deep connection grew as I focused, concentrated, and yes, struggled, to find the right colors, the right shapes, the right brush strokes to convey this moment in time, this place. The same type of struggle, perhaps, that Monet felt, that so many artists have felt and still feel, as they dig deep into themselves. It is a struggle that frustrates us, that stymies us, that won’t let us go, and that rewards us like nothing else.
That is the struggle out of which my painting, Vethueil View, was created.