Painting and observing water lilies is always a treat, but when those water lilies are in Monet’s Garden at Giverny, an even bigger one.
Two summers ago my friend the French artist, Mariethe Salort, took me and another American artist friend, Bonnie Halsey Dutton to paint in Monet’s garden, after everyone else had left! In other words, for a few blissful hours we had the Garden to ourselves.
It was a little like being presented with the most exquisite table of food, and only being able to sample and digest a very small portion.
Having been to the Gardens a few times before, along with hundreds of other visitors, it was a deeply significant experience to be there in total silence, except of course for the beautiful sounds of nature. I could imagine the great man himself, wandering the gardens and all the time painting, endeavouring to capture the rich play of light.
I made as many rapid sketches as was possible……including lots of quick observations of the water Lillie’s.
Note how I quickly sketch out the Lillie’s and then immediately go into the negative space using all the reflected colours from the surrounding flora and fauna.
Before adding the colour, I wet the area surrounding the lilies…..keeping the lilies as dry, white paper.
I strengthen the colour surrounding the lilies and then add a little colour to the actual lily pads (still keeping some dry white paper). I have indicated the pink flowers very loosely…..
This is a detail from another rapid sketch made on the same day – note the strong dark (a mix of burnt sienna and Prussian blue) surrounding the lily pads. This is a reflection of heavy foliage from above.
It’s important to note how much dry, white paper is left. This gives a watercolour, sparkle.