Monday, April 8, 2013

It's All About the Light!

Webby Here!

Have you ever painted or drawn a scene you saw outside?   Did you make your picture outdoors or did you create it later, entirely from memory?  What about the scene inspired you to create your piece of art?
Here is a picture Ayesha made last season at Owl Cottage! 
Click here to see other pictures done by amazing artists at Owl Cottage.

Whether it is violent waves washing up on a rocky cliff or tall trees flickering back and forth with the wind in the quiet countryside, the outdoors has been a popular subject for artists for hundreds of years.  But out of all these artists, there was one painter whose works remain some of the most famous outdoor scenes in the world.  Shelburne Museum’s Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial building has some excellent examples of these landscape paintings by artist Claude Monet.

Claude Monet was an Impressionist painter, which means he liked painting real life moments as they were actually happening.  Other artists of that time would recreate outdoor scenes from memory or a picture while working entirely inside a studio.  Monet, however, preferred to start and finish his paintings outdoors in front of the actual scene. 

Les glacons (The Ice Floes) 1880, Claude Monet

But why?  To Claude Monet, his paintings were not about the subjects.  Instead, he was interested in recording how the light hit the subject exactly at the moment he was painting.  That’s why Monet painted many works of the same object at different times of the day and even different seasons of the year.  Click here to go to Columbia University's fun and interactive study of Monet's series of the Rouen Cathedral in France.  It truly is amazing how not one of these paintings look the same!

As the sun moves across the sky, the light it casts causes colors to look different and shadows to grow and shrink.  Do you ever notice how the light of sunrise can be bright and intense while the sunset appears low and calm?   Monet was an expert at showing these differences of light on his canvas by carefully choosing different colors of paint and carefully studying the shadows. 

The Thames at Charing Cross Bridge, Londres
(The Thames at Charing Cross Bridge, London)
1899, Claude Monet
Meules, effet de neige (Grainstacks, Snow Effect)
1891, Claude Monet
Interested in capturing light like Monet?  All you need to be an Impressionist is a camera and a scene.  Since I have been cooped up inside for these long winter months, I chose to be a part of the scene.  Take pictures of your scene during different times of the day.  To really get a fun assortment, take pictures over a couple of days, a week, or even a month.   If you really want to see some differences, try taking pictures of the scene during different seasons.  Don’t forget to label each picture with the time of day!
8:30 a.m. & Cloudy

10:45 a.m. & Partly Sunny
Feel free to take pictures of your scene from all different angles and distances.  Pick the ones that you really like and compare the colors and shadows.  Is there one that is really bright?  How about dull?  Are the shadows small or really big?  Which time of day do you think shows the best light?

2:00 p.m. & Sunny
4:30 p.m. & Sunny
Send your pictures to: for a chance to appear on my blog. 

Be sure to check out Shelburne Museum’s great collection of Claude Monet’s paintings at the Electra Havemeyer Webb Memorial Building and my new Dive In cards site starting on May 12!

-- Webby

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