Monet Dreams the Depot

Monet Dreams the Depot

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Monet Dreams the Depot

Oil on canvas, 24” x 18”
Private collection, Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Baveri

The Woodstock Depot is an irresistible subject for an artist. The glowing red tiles, the triangles formed by the roof, the stripes of the train tracks…

I had so many visions about how the Depot could be painted that I knew I hadn’t been the only artist ever attracted to the subject. And it gave me an idea: What if some of history’s famous artists were here? How would they have painted the Depot?

I resolved to find four artists from the pages of history who would become my teachers. The work of each of them would serve as an inspiration for four entirely different paintings of the Woodstock Depot. I would imagine how this historic building might appear if it were seen through their eyes.

I searched through my library and selected four artists: French Impressionist Claude Monet, the Dutch post-Impressionist Vincent Van Gogh, and 20th Century American artists Edward Hopper and Andrew Wyeth, the latter still living. To my knowledge, Monet and Hopper actually painted depots and railway buildings. Van Gogh and Wyeth I considered amenable to the subject.

This first painting is my homage to Monet. Claude Monet lived in France and was possibly the most “Impressionist” of the Impressionists. In fact, one of his paintings, Impression: Sunrise,” gave the artistic movement its name.

Design and composition in a painting were never Monet’s passion; his entire life, his attention was captivated by light and color only. His fellow painter Cezanne, much more a structuralist, had this to say about him: “Monet is nothing but an eye – but God! What an eye!”

On his painting trips, Monet was often away from his wife and children for prolonged periods of time. He continually wrote home of his struggles, his failures, his frustration with the changeability of the weather as he strove to capture light and color on canvas.

As I worked on this painting, I often felt like I was sharing in Monet’s frustration. After a month long struggle, I conceded defeat, and labeled the painting a complete failure.

But Monet was not done with me. Two days later, eyeing the Depot from my studio window, I suddenly perceived how light had permeated Monet’s vision. I saw that he had transformed its flickering energy into the foundation of his paintings, its presence like a scaffold supporting his world.

Finally understanding, I resolved my painting the next day.


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