“Colour is my day-long obsession, joy and torment” – Claude Monet
Here is some brief YouTube film footage of Monet painting. AD Films and Nick Wallace Smith made this film available of Monet painting his Giverny water lilies in plein-air. Regretfully you aren’t able to see much of the actual painting but I’m inspired by seeing a great painter working on a huge canvas under two white umbrellas while hand-holding a huge palette with no gloves, smoking and wearing perfectly lily-white formal attire which smartly covered his generous frame.
Many of today’s plein-air painters should consider this when trudging out with their stingy palettes attached to their tiny little pochades holding 8 by 10″ panels. I suspect that Monet is wearing his usual attire and didn’t dress up for the camera. There is a whole art to keeping yourself clean and not to get paint everywhere while holding the palette with brushes, paint rag, medium, etc. The quest for comfort and convenience causes many painters to lose the many advantages that hand-holding a large palette offers, such as being able to mix colors while standing further back from the canvas, being able to angle the palette away from the direct sun, and ample mixing area with large amounts of paint. Great painters can “play” their palette like a great violist and their violin, mixing colors on the palette instinctively from long years of daily practice. Monet himself painted in his old age despite severe cataracts and compromised vision.
Monet’s Palette – (manipulated slightly in photoshop to enhance readability) original photo located at this link by photo by Amy K Jensen taken at the Musée Marmottan in Paris.
Asked in 1905 what colors he used, Monet said: “As for the colors I use, what’s so interesting about that? I don’t think one could paint better or more brightly with another palette. The point is to know how to use the colors, the choice of which is, when all’s said and done, a matter of habit. Anyway, I use flake white, cadmium yellow, vermilion, deep madder, cobalt blue, emerald green, and that’s all.”
Some choice Claude Monet quotes:
I do what I can to convey what I experience before nature and most often, in order to succeed in conveying what I feel, I totally forget the most elementary rules of painting, if they exist that is.
Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.
Critic asks: ‘And what, sir, is the subject matter of that painting?’ – ‘The subject matter, my dear good fellow, is the light.’
You’ll understand, I’m sure that I’m chasing the merest sliver of color. It’s my own fault. I want to grasp the intangible. It’s terrible how the light runs out. Color, any color, lasts a second, sometimes 3 or 4 minutes at most…
No one but myself knows the anxiety I go through and the trouble I give myself to finish paintings which do not satisfy me and seem to please so very few others.
It really is appallingly difficult to do something which is complete in every respect, and I think most people are content with mere approximations. Well, my dear friend, I intend to battle on, scrape off and start again…
I’ve done what I could as a painter and that seems to me to be sufficient. I don’t want to be compared to the great masters of the past, and my painting is open to criticism; that’s enough.
Think of me getting up before 6, I’m at work by 7 and I continue until 6.30 in the evening, standing up all the time, nine canvases. It’s murderous…
The above quotes and many more excellent Claude Monet quotes (120) can be read on Robert Genn’s vast collection of artist’s quotes.