A lifetime of strokes
Monet and the musings of an impressionable, young adult.
When I was in third grade I tried to explain to my mom that my teacher was a green teacher and Sheridan Webster’s teacher was a blue teacher. She didn’t get it. She didn’t understand that when I said green I really meant soft-spoken yet realistic, and when I said blue I really meant calm and nurturing. I just didn’t know those words yet. All I knew was that I associated feelings and emotions with colors.
My math binders are repeatedly black. The color of death. And my English binders are always pink — happy and exciting pink. Learning for me means being able to visualize, then conceptualize. It wasn’t until 2011 that my theory came full circle and manifested itself in the form of a water lily.
Let me explain.
Tucked away in a corner of northern France, on the fertile banks of the Seine, lies the
heart of impressionism. Giverny, a sleepy village with cobblestone streets and quaint cottages, is privy to a trickle of daily tourists, mostly elderly women with an enthusiasm for botany who make the pilgrimage to see arguably the world’s most beautiful garden.
I have always held a certain fondness for impressionism, but as I biked the miles back to
Vernon, home to Giverny’s nearest train station, I realized why impressionism is in fact realism.
While Merriam-Webster makes the case that the blended colors of realist paintings, with their brush-strokes indecipherable, is the most veracious portrayal of actuality, I would disagree. It is through the muddled messiness of impressionism that something realistic is brought to fruition.
Life is never clean and smooth.
My life in its entirety is the canvas. It started out blank but is currently in the process of becoming something beautiful. My first memory of joy was when three-year-old me ran through a Pooh-bear lawn sprinkler with my dad. A thick yellow glob of paint added and a sun filled recollection stored. In and of itself, that sunspot is a lovely color and an even lovelier memory, but combined with every other shade of my life thus far, it gains weight and purpose — meaning.
Each day, summer and year have added another dollop of color to my life, certain eras more blue, more orange, more red or more green than others. Some colors ended up shaded more somberly — like the dark grey when I confusedly hung up the phone receiving my first notice of death. Coral for when my fifth grade crush brought me a heart shaped box of Reese’s and asked to be my boyfriend on Valentine’s day. Deep purple for secret rendezvous and sneaking out of the house. Green — fruitful and omnipresent — for hours spent studying.
I think Monet understood this when he painted his water lilies. He knew there was
necessity in the dark shades, for without them to throw the pastels into relief there would be no contrast and no beauty. I am thankful for the browns and the blacks and the greys. They help me appreciate the yellows, the oranges and the turquoises.
While I cannot say for certain how my canvas will turn out, I know there is truth and fulfillment to be found in the process of painting.