“Impressions Upon Waterlilies”
Monet's numerous oil paintings on water lilies in his garden serves as an inspiration for this watercolor study. This experimental study was done after a brief look at a few photographs and paintings of his garden and purely painted through what I remember without a reference. It was an experiment that stemmed from a greater question posed during my art hum class: what gives a painting its soul?
Plato posited that all things in this world possesses an abstract perfect form difficult to graps by ordinary beings. To me, the impressionism movement is an attempt at capturing this form of a scene and putting it on canvas, through the capturing of light and atmosphere and abstracting away the details. Indeed, viewing the works of impressionists, I personally feel an additional degree of closeness to the scene than when viewing photographs of the exact same scene. Being scientifically minded, however, I soon have a question I wish to test out: whether or not the impression formed and sustained by memory and consciousness has any semblance to what the impressionists were trying to capture? Which one would be closer to capturing the soul of a scene? This work was a result of that question. By sketching from my "impression" of a scene, I wish to compare what my memory and consciousness capture and see if indeed it captures similar elements as the original Monet paintings.
Although a complete amateur, I procured some watercolors and got to work. I looked through a few photographs of the same garden Monet painted and got to work without any reference. I painted multiple studies until I got one that I am satisfied as the photograph I remember in my head. I was surprised by the end result. My brain has substituted in different colors for shadows (the willow in the backs has turned into blury blobs with hints of purple), reminding me of how impressionist painters paid attention to colored shadows. Although the colors were completely off from the original paintings, I am happy that it verified my hypothesis that impressionist painters in some essence, capture a human understanding of the scene, interpreting the scene in an incomplete form digestable by our forgetful minds.
Impressionism's impact reaches literature and music. Perhaps in my spare time, I shall find ways to test these medium's interactions with consciousness. In the end, artistic mediums indeed appear to capture the soul of its subjects.
About the Author: Bill Chen
Hailing from Canada, I enjoy a variety of sports including skiing, golfing and badminton. On my spare time, I enjoy jamming with my friends with my saxophone.