Tag Archives: Claude Monet

Walking with Claude

“Walking with Claude”
a drawing in oil pastels and coloured pencils of Monet’s house and garden in autumn.
320 x 400 mm. February 2018.

Does the spirit of Claude Monet walk in his garden?  He said his garden was his greatest masterpiece – so perhaps he lingers within its borders.  But all the tourists might drive him mad!  He (like many artists) used to be infuriated by the interruptions of curious people.

I like to think he may come and go – leaving when it is busy and returning when all is quiet.  The garden was nearly empty of people in late autumn of 2012 when I was there.

Who knows?  Perhaps we walked side by side sharing in silence our solitude.


On a former occasion, in 2005, I visited Giverny with my family.  Here I hand the page over to Matthew to introduce his song “Walking with Claude“…

Matthew, Emily, Lucy and Alicia on the Japanese bridge in Monet’s garden. August 2005. Photo by Julie

Walking with Claude  by Matthew Clements

“In the summer of 2005 we spent time in Monet’s garden.  It was during one of our last family holidays before Emily, Alicia and Lucy sprouted their own wings.

I wanted to write a song which somehow captured the artist in his idyll.  My mother, Barbara, was a gifted gardener.  I thought how she would have loved Monet’s garden but her advancing age made it unlikely she could ever make the journey.  In fact, she never visited Europe during her life.  So the song became my description to her of his wonderful garden.

By the time I wrote the song a year later, my own impending kidney failure somehow impacted the spirit of the song as I compared my mother’s mortality with my own.

The brilliant Perth guitarist and singer-songwriter Simon Nield, already with well advanced cancer that would soon take his life, found his own meaning in the lyric and recorded me singing it in his studio in 2007.  He then overlaid some of his own gorgeous guitar.  Thank you Simon!”


“Day Trip to Giverny”
Drawn in January 2018


Day Trip to Giverny

“Day Trip to Giverny”
mixed media drawing 325 x 415 mm. January 2018

“Day Trip to Giverny” is a drawing of a scene I photographed in Monet’s garden .  I have often looked at the 2012 source photo but it looked a bit daunting to draw.  However in January 2018 I decided to try.

At first I stared at my page thinking, “I have no idea how to begin”.   I started at the back and over time gradually moved forward.  The drawing process with brush and pencil was an enjoyable and stimulating adventure.  (I use a bristle brush to transfer the pigment from oil pastel to paper.  Then I work the pencils over/into the pastels.   I call this method ‘dry painting’.)

Working on the drawing brought back the feeling of quiet ecstasy I experienced while taking in the sights, sounds and perfumes which Monet’s garden offered me.  As I had visited the garden in late October, there were only one or two days of viewing left before the garden was closed for its winter rest.  It wasn’t a riot of extravagant colour as it is in high summer – consequently there were just a few visitors besides me.  Rather, it was a subtle wilderness beneath a gentle grey sky.  It was – heaven.

The drawing as a work-in-progress with my photo on the left.


Le Jardin de Claude Monet

Claude Monet's house and garden in autumn.

Claude Monet’s house and garden.

I invite you to click onto the photos and drawings to see the detail.

One of Monet's Japanese bridges.

The Japanese Bridge

Jardin d'Eau

Jardin d’Eau (The Water Garden)

Willows, lilies and bridge.

Willows, lily pads and bridge.

Exactly one year ago, last October, I visited Claude Monet’s house and garden at Giverny.  It was the end of October so the garden was only open to the public for one or two more days before its winter hibernation.  Hard to believe that it would soon be closed as the flower beds in front of the house were still riotous with colour.  I wrote in my journal, “I found the garden too much – like a feast of overly-rich food.  I probably got my best pictures outside the garden [in the village] because I could isolate elements and concentrate on them.  Inside the garden I just didn’t know which way to turn because it was a firework display of flowers all going off at once.”

"The Welcoming Cat" coloured pencil drawing; 285 x 330 mm. 2013

“The Welcoming Cat” coloured pencil drawing; 285 x 330 mm. 2013

"Interlude" coloured pencil drawing, 280 x 300 mm. 2012

“Interlude” coloured pencil drawing, 280 x 300 mm. 2012

Two drawings from that trip are of a small cat who trotted up to see me.  I was photographing rose bushes in Giverny, not far from le jardin de Claude Monet.  After she greeted me, she stopped on the corner to observe her surroundings.  Then she disappeared into the café just beside us.  “The Welcoming Cat” and “Interlude” are now framed and hanging on the walls at home, reminding me of Giverny in autumn.

In April this year I revisited le jardin de Claude Monet.  Having been there just before it closed for winter, I was back at the beginning of spring as it reopened.  This time I had Matthew with me and it was the first really warm and sunny day of the season.  We went to the corner café for coffee and cake.  I asked the owner about the little cat.  In my journal I wrote, “The man at the café said yes, it is their cat and the cat at the moment is somewhere.”  I thought this was a good description of the cat’s whereabouts.  Anyone who knows cats understands about ‘somewhere’ ie anywhere; for cats are independent individuals who go where they wish.

Vapour trails above Giverny in April.

Vapour trails above Giverny in April.

Enchanted April. Daffodils with Japanese bridge.

Enchanted April. Daffodils with Japanese bridge.

Daffodil fields in front of the house.

Daffodil fields in front of la maison.

Our guide, the debonair Oliver, told us that Monet chose Normandy over all the places he could live (for by the time he bought the property he was rich).  He required an area with soft light, the sort in which rain falls every second day.   Oliver followed up by saying that more alcohol is consumed in Normandy than in any other region in the world due to that same miserably consistent rain which Monet wanted for his art!

I have also been to the garden in mid summer (in 2005) when the water lilies are abundant.  At that time of year tourists are also abundant!  In late autumn and early spring the water lilies weren’t flowering but to compensate, there were hardly any visitors.  In both October and April one could contemplate in peace.

On the way back to Australia I managed to get my Monet water lily image – in Singapore of all places – down at Marina Bay Sands.  I took this photo about 36 hours after being in Giverny.  I think the spirit of Monet’s garden was still in my eye.  I am considering making a drawing from this photo.  Maybe one day.

Water lilies in Singapore.

Water lilies in Singapore.

Afterword: speaking of cats, you might like to see this view below.  This is a scene right here in front of me now.  I have my draft up on the computer screen and my journals (from which I quoted) laid out on the desk.  My cat, Saphie, would like my attention so she has plonked herself centre stage.  For the moment, this is Saphie’s somewhere.

Saphie in the midst of 'Monet's Garden' blog post composition.

Saphie invading my ”le jardin de Claude Monet” thoughts.

In January 2018 I am attempting a drawing in mixed media from one of my photos.

In 2018 I made drawings from the first two photos in this post.

“Day Trip to Giverny”
Drawn in January 2018

“Walking with Claude”
Sennelier oil pastels, and coloured pencils on Arches Aquarelle smooth.

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