Reflections on impressionism
I took a few hours off in the middle of last week to go to a Claude Monet exhibit at the Denver Art Museum. Wandering throughout the exhibit with the other Tuesday morning patrons, it struck me that maybe Monet was less interested in the subject of his painting and more interested in how that subject changed in an ever-evolving environment. The sun would set, a cloud would migrate overhead, water lilies would be illuminated by the late afternoon glow, London fog would roll in. Perhaps because he wasn’t painting subjects but instead painting moments, he could fall in love with the same subject at a different moment and become entranced by it all over again (like his collection of water lily paintings).
Maybe that’s the essence of being an impressionist painter: not being obsessed with exactitude of a subject but more intrigued by capturing its fleeting essence…the impression of something that never occupies the same moment twice. It made me wonder if there is virtue in capturing the ephemeral thing imprecisely instead of capturing the static thing precisely. Maybe our pursuit of perfection gets in our way of noticing those in-between moments in ourselves, in our families, in our artwork when the light changes and the same thing is recast and new colors show through.