Article: "Monet's Palette in the Twentieth Century: Water-Lilies and Irises" by Ashok Roy

I came across this article from the National Gallery Technical Bulletin, Volume 28, 2007 titled "Monet's Palette in the Twentieth Century: Water-Lilies and Irises" by Ashok Roy and wanted to share it:


 I have always been fascinated with the science and technical process of art making as well as the creative development of the artist over time.  The article confirms what I thought I observed in Monet's water-lilies compared to his earlier work.  The article talks about how analysis shows that Monet did a good bit of mixing his paint earlier in his career and probably worked more wet into wet.  Later, it appears that he used more pure color mixed with only white or one other color allowing passages to dry or almost dry before continuing.  To me, his water-lily paintings appear to be created in a similar way to how I approach pastel painting and what I aspire to achieve in oil.  Pure color is applied in thin layers without much mixing, allowing the previous layers to peek through.  To me, this is what makes his water-lily paintings ethereal and is a contact challenge for me.  The article compares his earlier and later work for technical purposes, but I think it is also speaking to Monet's creative development.  When I teach art, I tell my students that art is just a series of correcting mistakes.  You may become more technically proficient over time but I think artists are perpetual students.  This may even be part of the impetus behind why most artists feel that they must create.  Creating art is a constant challenge both technically and spiritually.  Knowing this, I wonder at artists I have been following for many years that are selling in galleries, and seem to be successful, yet their work still looks the same over many years.  To be fair, maybe a longer period of time is needed to observe natural change.  It seems most galleries don't want artists to change.  They seem to want artists to create a consistent commodity, except possibly the very high end, cutting edge galleries that seem to want shock, sarcasm, and irony which necessitates constant change.  But using Monet's work as an example, the fact that his work changed does not seem to devalue it and perhaps makes it more interesting.  You can see the depth of his and society's history through his development as an artist and that makes it all the more beautiful.

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