Following Monet’s Advice When Painting Lilacs

April 20, 2016

Lilac bouquet

Lilac bouquet

I find painting lilacs a challenge.  So instead of getting bogged down in the details, I tried to keep this painting tip from Monet in mind when I set out to paint this bouquet of lilacs:

“Whenever you go out to paint try to forget what objects you have in front of you — a tree, a house, a field, or whatever . . . and merely think, here is a little squeeze of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact colour and shape, until it gives your own naive impression of the scene before you.”
— Claude Monet

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6 Responses to “Following Monet’s Advice When Painting Lilacs”

  1. E. Bancroft Says:

    Bravo! I’m really drawn to that bough of white lilac which you have rendered so beautifully. It’s not easy to draw white flowers and there’s something so alive in these ones. Charles Hawthorne says much the same thing about painting: forget about drawing — ‘the mechanics of putting one spot of color next to another’ will see your image emerge.

    • E. Bancroft Says:

      p.s. I wore my prescription sunglasses to walk to yoga this morning and took them off when I arrived… but had to put up with a bit of blurry vision during the class. In the centre of the circle was a vase of lilac just like yours and without my glasses, well, all I saw was a blur of colour. Aha! I thought, now here’s a new way of ‘seeing’! Might be worth trying to paint without my specs to focus on colour rather than detail.

  2. Diana Studer Says:

    having fun while painting – and the result is wonderfully lively

  3. shoreacres Says:

    Have you read Annie Dillard’s “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”? In her chapter on seeing, she writes about newly sighted people who saw things at patches of color. Here’s one short excerpt:

    “I saw color-patches for weeks after I read this wonderful book. It was summer; the peaches were ripe in the valley orchards. When I woke in the morning, color-patches wrapped round my eyes,
    intricately, leaving not one unfilled spot. All day long I walked among shifting color-patches that parted before me like the Red Sea and closed again in silence, transfigured, wherever I looked
    back. Some patches swelled and loomed, while others vanished utterly, and dark marks flitted at random over the whole dazzling sweep. But I couldn’t sustain the illusion of flatness. I’ve been
    around for too long. Form is condemned to an eternal danse macabre with meaning: I couldn’t unpeach the peaches. Now can I remember ever having seen without understanding; the color-
    patches of infancy are lost. My brain then must have been smooth as any balloon. I’m told I reached for the moon; many babies do. But the color-patches of infancy swelled as meaning filled them; they arrayed themselves in solemn ranks down distance which unrolled and stretched before me like a plain… The fluttering patch I saw in my nursery window—silver and green and shape-shifting blue—is gone; a row of Lombardy poplars takes its place.”

    The whole chapter is online here.


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