Updated: Oct 6, 2021
This week we created an Impressionist seascape inspired by Claude Monet using a variety of media and techniques.
Monet was born on 14 November 1840 in Paris, the second son of Claude Adolphe Monet and Louise Justine Aubrée Monet. When he was five years old, his family moved to the Normandy coast, near Le Havre, France. His childhood was spent along the beaches, and the intimate knowledge he gained of the sea and the coastal climate that was ever changing, later influenced his art and refined his vision of nature. As a young child he did pencil sketches of sailing ships, and charcoal caricatures of local figures. Monet’s mother encouraged his artistic talent, but his father wanted him to go into the family grocery business. After his mother died in 1857, Monet left home to live with his aunt who was an amateur painter and she encouraged him to study drawing with a local artist. His life as an artist took an abrupt leap when he was mentored by artist Eugène Boudin, a painter of beach scenes, who introduced him to painting outdoors “ Plein Air “.
This would be Monet’s defining method for the remainder of his life.
As a young man , Monet traveled to Paris to visit the Louvre, he witnessed painters copying from the old masters. He would instead go and sit by a window and paint what he saw. In 1862 Monet became a student of Charles Gleyre in Paris, where he met other like minded artists. Disillusioned with the art establishment, Monet created a community with other frustrated artists including Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, Edgar Degas, and Paul Cézanne. They were considered rebels who sought to overturn traditional methods. They called themselves ”The Anonymous Society of Painters, Sculptors, & Printmakers”. Ironically these "anonymous " artists all became the Masters of Modern Art. Together they shared new approaches to art, painting the effects of light with broken color with quickly applied brushstrokes.
In 1870 during the Franco-Prussian war, Monet and Pissarro took refuge in London where he was introduced to the paintings of the groundbreaking artist, JW Turner. Turner's visionary atmospheric works and innovative techniques greatly influenced the young Monet. It was Turner who first coined the word" Impressions " in the titles of his paintings, a description that Monet borrowed and was later credited for when the Impressionist movement was formed. After visiting London, Monet returned to France with a new perspective and approach to art. His ambition of documenting the French countryside led him to adopt a method of painting the same scene many times in order to capture the changing of light and the passing of the seasons. The term "Impressionism" , which was a derogatory term, originated from the title of Monet’s painting ,“Impression of Sunrise", which was exhibited in 1874 in the first of the independent exhibitions mounted by Monet and his artist friends .