Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Landscape art - where to start......

La Pie (1868-69) by Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Oil on canvas, H. 89; W. 130 cm

Musée d'Orsay, Paris
photo copyright Katherine Tyrrell

The problem with this project is knowing where to start.

I have a notebook which has been filling up with notes for the last few months as I try to get a feel for what this project on landscape art might cover. At the moment I'm barely scratching the surface with my notes which are headlines only. I've not even started to make detailed notes as yet but I'm about to start a new notebook!

The bottom line is that landscape art as a topic is HUGE!

If I knew I didn't know enough before I started, I now know for certain I had no idea how much I didn't know! :) I suspect that might be the same for lots of other people.

It's difficult enough working out how to tackle this if I'm doing it just for myself. However if it becomes interactive the ning community structure and this blog MUST make sense to other people.

So basically the topic of landscape art is massive and complex - and it has to be made simple (but flexible so I can incorporate yet more new stuff as I progress!)

It then has to be capable of being explained - in a simple way - in terms of how the whole interactive element works as the project integrates contributions from our blogs with this blog and the ning community and the information sites.

Which is why I'm trying to get those sites up and running in a way which is basic but makes sense before we get going proper.

So - while I work away behind the scenes - what I thought I might do over the next few days is provide some teasers by way of examples of headline topics for future blog posts.

I'm also going to start posting some images of landscapes.

I was fortunate this summer to visit Paris and spent two days - with my camera - in the Louvre and the Musée dOrsay creating a set of images from which I could learn more about French painting - including landscape painting.

Since the Arctic weather continues in the UK, I've posted one my favourite images by one of my favourite painters - La Pie by Monet.

I've always admired this painting because of its composition and because it pulls off that very difficult trick of making a picture of objects covered in white look interesting. I always spend time in front of it seeing all the different colours he's used. You can read more about the painting on the Musée d'Orsay website, if you follow this link
This painting of a place in the countryside near Etretat, executed on the spot, uses very unusual pale, luminous colours, a fact highlighted by the critic Felix Fénéon: "[The public] accustomed to the tarry sauces cooked up by the chefs of art schools and academies, was flabbergasted by this pale painting." The novelty and daring of Monet's approach, which was more about perception than description, explain the painting's rejection by the jury of the 1869 salon.
The bit I never quite understood is how he managed to bisect the picture around the centre line with the top line of the hedge and yet this doesn't make the picture look odd. It isn't until you squint that you realise that the line which is really important is the bottom not the top of the hedge and the bottom of the shadow.  The top line mostly merges into the background.

Are you painting pictures of snow at the moment?

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