Friday, July 12, 2019

Monet, Colour, and Choosing Paint

"Water Lilies is an extension of my life. Without water the lilies cannot live, as I am without art." (Claude Monet)

I recently went searching through photos for something (and I found it), but was enticed down a rabbit hole with photos from our trip to France and the UK in 2016. One of the highlights of the trip was a visit to Giverny where Monet lived, gardened, and painted. 

"I must have flowers. Always and always." (Claude Monet)

The garden was a riot of colour. Roses, poppies, sunflowers, agapanthus, phlox, hollyhocks - all the lovely flowers mingled together in generous beds between straight paths that led round to the house. 

"Everyday 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." (Claude Monet)

Although most of us would think a pink house with bright green shutters garish, it fit perfectly in Monet's garden. 

"Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment." (Claude Monet)

Most of the walls in Monet's house are cool neutral whites and pale shades. It was quite startling to walk into the dining room where vibrant, clear yellow dominates. Notice how even the furniture is painted the same colour.  And the red checkered floor. Blue and white tiles. Amazing. This is a room for lively conversation, for good food, for friends and family. One feels revitalized just walking into the space. 

"Everyone discusses my art and pretends to understand, as if it were necessary to understand, when it is simply necessary to love." (Claude Monet)

The kitchen is a riot of blue and white tiles, turquoise and white cabinets and those shiny copper pots that instill admiration and the desire to whip up a souffle or omelette. There have been a few books published about Monet's appreciation of good food, and how much he entertained his friends at Giverny. 

The photos of Monet's house got me thinking about my own. Like Monet I favour cool, clear colours. I have never liked the beiges and earth tones that were so popular a few years ago. Wherever we lived, if it was possible, I painted walls light and cool. The collage above is composed of photos from the Cotswolds and Wales, and you can see I have a tendency to blue. Clear blues of almost any shade are, and always have been, my favourite.

I even have a hard time taking photos of flowers that are orange or pale peach. They just don't appeal to me like the pink roses and blue delphiniums. Above is a collage of roses from the gardens at Sudeley Castle. I forced myself to take photos of those orange hues. 

This brings me to my current dilemma. Our living/dining room needs repainting. I've been thinking about it for a couple of years. It's very pale blue. When we lived in the jungle of Ecuador, the living room was painted white with the barest barest hint of pink - cool, clear pink, not swine-colour. I've been looking around and talking to paint experts and I think I'm ready to take the plunge.

"Try to forget what objects you have before you - a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think, "Here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow," and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you your own impression of the scene before you." (Claude Monet)

I painted a test splotch on the wall today and I think the colour will work (can't remember the name, but the clerk at Benjamin Moore said it was the palest pink they make). We have the best of guests for the weekend (Baby Iris and her parents) so painting will wait for awhile, but it feels good to start. 

I'm so happy the sun is shining this afternoon after a rainy, cloudy week. Hooray for summertime! 

Linking to Friday Bliss, hosted by Riitta of Floral Passions, where she mentions that Finland has also had a cool and rainy week.  


  1. Wonderful photos of Monet house & garden. I have not visited it, read only in books. Choosing a wall paint colour is extremely difficult! It is worth while to think it over - thoroughly. I have made so many mistakes and have had to repaint very soon.

    Enjoy your lovely visitors this weekend <3 So great that baby Iris & the parents are coming over!

  2. Lovely post. I went to Giverny 19 years ago. Delightful place.

  3. Interesting discussion on your preferences. What a dull world it would be if we all felt the same about style and color. I can think of nothing more glorious than a coral rose and you can hardly bring yourself to photograph one...this amuses me greatly! Whatever you decide upon will be carefully thought through and executed flawlessly. For those reasons, I am certain that it will be fabulous.

    Enjoy your guests. How wonderful for them to find some respite in your home. So needed for new parents!

  4. What a joy to admire your stunning photos with such a wonderful array of colour. Enjoy your visitors.

  5. I wished I could have gone there while in Paris, but it was closed, so out tour group went to Versailles instead.

  6. You'll have a fun weekend for sure! Love seeing the Monet garden photos and reading all the wonderful quotes! Surrounding ourselves with colors and things that we like brings us joy...and even peace! Hugs!

  7. How interesting to hear Monet's comments and feeling about color. I tend to like neutrals and feel more calm in them.

  8. I used to have postcards from Giverny on my fridge. I loved the yellow and blue. So bright and cheerful. We're going to paint when the outside work is finished. I'm not fond of the grey colours that are popular right now. I'm more of a Mediterranean type at this point so I'm thinking of a very soft olive green. Have fun with Baby Iris. What a lovely name! will she have blue eyes?

  9. I tend to prefer neutrals and then should I wish I can go to town on accessories which are so much easier to change. Your palest pink sounds lovely, and I hope that it works well for you.
    It is several years since I visited Monet's garden - but once seen never forgotten.
    Enjoy your weekend with baby Iris and her parents.

  10. Lovley Giverny, one of our favourite places to visit at different seasons.
    Orange figures no where in my garden. In fact I have a hard time allowing yellows in, it's all pinks and blues with white bits.

  11. How sweet that baby Iris brought her parents over to visit. Such sweet cuddle moments with babies. Beautiful blues in this post that always speak to me. Hope your weekend is full of joy!

  12. I know you are enjoying your family time and loving on little Iris. I enjoyed the lovely photos from your travels. All the colors and flowers wee a feast for the eyes.
    Hope you'll take us along when the painting begins.

  13. Lovely to see Monet’s garden through your eyes. i remember the vivid yellow of the dining room and loving its vibrancy. It’s good to have a change of colours in your home. We too stick to blues and greens a lot. I look forward to seeing your finished room. B x

  14. Oh I have enjoyed my visit this morning. Lovely to see Monet's garden and house and to imagine you walking through it enjoying it all. There is an element of fun in the 'dilemma' of choosing new colour schemes for for one's walls. Funny thing for me, even when I'm sure I want a change, I tend to come back to shades of yellows and creams for my walls. I love the warmth of yellow and the cheer it brings to the rooms inside. And it goes so well with just about any other colour … blue and white, touches of green, bits of red.

    Happy painting when you do begin. In the meanwhile enjoy that baby Iris and her parents when they visit.

    Wishing you a happy day...
    Brenda xox

  15. Beautiful photos
    I love Monet's dinning chairs!
    Paint. Not easy to chose. Depending on where you are in the room, the shadows can create surprises. In the afternoon, a pink shade can become another lovely hue.

  16. Beautiful pictures (and wonderful memories for you). I enjoyed your well-chosen Monet quotes as well as your talented photography. Especially the one under (I think) the kitchen. I pretty much just want to love ... not have it all explained.

  17. I went to my nieces home yesterday. her home was lovely . I heard all about how she chose her paint. It worked, but I didn't need the story! lol

  18. I'm into neutral colours for the walls and would add colour via accent pieces.

    Yellow is one of my favourite colours so I love the kitchen!

  19. Love the couple times I was able to visit Monet's garden. And his kitchen just took my breathe away. Also visited Sudeley Castle and the garden was beautiful. I will look forward to seeing your finished paint project. A pale pink sounds delightful.

  20. I am charmed by the photo of the pink house with the green window sashes and shutters! Color affects us in so many ways. It even affects different people in different ways. Fascinating! I hope that your new room color makes your heart sing!

  21. I loved seeing your photos of Monet’s house, Lorrie. I’m with you in my dislike of orange tones. I just can’t handle them. I look forward to seeing g your new color choice. Paint colors are so hard for me to choose!

  22. Lorrie - well, this is one rabbit hole I am so glad we ALL went down with you. Such wonderful photos and accompanying quotes - I think I will be hearing Monet's voice in my head for weeks to come, and how grateful I will be! The nice thing about paint is - you can paint over it!

  23. I really enjoyed this very colorful post!

  24. If it's the palest pink they make... it will probably be very gentle and white-like? I have been struggling for months now over paint color decisions, and have finally committed! I think I needed all the delays in order to get through what is surely a creative thought process.

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