Dear Claude Monet, you won’t believe what your painting just sold for!

Claude Monet, Meules, 1890.

Claude Monet is famous for painting many subjects, water lilies, cathedral facades, footbridges, and of course, hay stacks. It is his hay stack painting, Meules,  that captured a huge sum of money at auction recently 110 million dollars to be exact.   What makes these paintings so captivating?  Two ideas: they are all painted in multiples, and the the subject is light as metaphor.  Monet captures the light as it plays off of natural objects.  In fact, he is more interested in light than the subject itself.  Think about it: Monet is at his most prolific during the height of the industrial revolution when change is constant-much like our world today. Light changes at great speed, thus his focus on light as a metaphor for constant change.  By painting in multiples, he revisits the same subject but in a different light.  Years later, Hollywood directs such as Martin Scorsese will create similar effects using film and stage lighting.

I have been thinking of Monet as I have been painting this series of River Road, Topsfield.  To be sure, it is a beautiful place-tree lined winding road, open fields, wild flowers, gorgeous architecture. But, much like the great Impressionist artist himself, I have been focusing on the natural sunlight as it moves through the day, through the seasons, and through all sorts of weather conditions-something New England is famous for!  And, in keeping with his idea of multiples, I am painting in a series, five paintings to be exact, two of which are featured here.

 

 

Meg Black, Morning light, River Road, Topsfield. 2019. In progress.

Two River Road paintings in progress, showing different light effects.

 

Chiaroscuro, River Road, and Caravaggio: a painterly connection.

This is a photo I took of River Road, Topsfield in the early morning. The light coming in from the left creates a strong shadow on the road.

I was lucky to see the original painting by Caravaggio in Rome this past spring. It is still in its original location in the Contarelli Chapel in San Luigi dei Francesi in Rome.

Early morning, River Road, Topsfield. The light in this photo has a dramatic quality that reminds me of one of my favorite artists, Caravaggio. Caravaggio placed light colors against dark to create a dramatic effect in his work, known as chiaroscuro in Latin. The early morning light plays against the dark shadows giving off a similar quality. Caravaggio does this in his painting of The Calling of Mathew.