Tag Archives: Bookmarked

Monday Morning Moment – The Eye of Monet – 5 Books to Extend Your Summer into Fall

Today is the first day of Fall here. After walking this morning, I sat in our garden to cool off. The brilliant summer flowers are on the wane  after days of hot and dry weather. Many have gone to seed, now harvested by the birds (especially the goldfinch). The blooms remaining peek out, through those that peaked earlier and have since finished their season…The garden in early Fall is still a wonder…gloriously fading.

French Impressionist painter Claude Monet (1840-1926) is my favorite artist. Maybe because he made years of study of two of my favorite flowers – the iris and the water lily. He had an eye for such beauty.Photo Credit: Commons WikimediaPhoto Credit: Commons Wikimedia

“Monet has long been regarded, as Cezanne remarked of him, ‘merely an eye, but what an eye’, translating onto canvas the images before him… Monet’s eye was a painter’s eye, an eye with a creative mind behind it, interpreting apparent reality and putting into the context of the thoughts in the painter’s mind, thus creating a new vision for the spectator.”Edmund Swinglehurst

My favorite quote on reading these days is from author and patron of the arts John Ruskin:

“The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy and religion, all in one.”
He could be describing Monet as well.  His paintings of what he saw around him in the natural world bring a beautiful nostalgia with them (similar to that of favorite books and music). Monet painted in a non-pretentious way, not intending to artificially move the emotions. He painted like one who saw the beauty of nature, and, with his own emotions aroused, painted what he saw. That eye of his…
Over the years, I have collected five books on Monet. Each is quite unique. I’d like to give a quick shout-out to each one.
1) Monet or the Triumph of Impressionism by Daniel Wildenstein – This beautiful biography of Monet’s life and rise of Impressionism. It’s a large book (coffee table size)…full of his artwork with exquisite detail of how Monet came to paint the scene and what was going on during the period in which it was painted. Beautiful book.

Monet

Photo Credit: Amazon

2) The Life and Works of Monet by Edmund Swinglehurst – This thin book (only 78 pages and much of it Monet’s artwork) is a quick study of Monet’s life. It’s a very easy read and yet still detailed enough to capture something of the Master Monet’s life, preferences, and influences.Photo Credit: Amazon

3) Monet’s Table – The Cooking Journals of Claude Monet by Claire Joyes – For the foodies among us, this book weaves together biography, art, and cooking. Monet's Table

Photo Credit: Amazon

Although Parisian, Monet lived for over 40 years in a cottage in the village Giverny. With Alice, his second wife, and 8 children. Monet’s Table. The “journal” aspect of the book is less about Monet’s diary entries and more about how he and Alice incorporated their love for good food into the lifestyle they enjoyed of late (by the Giverny years, Monet had become quite successful as an artist). His recipes (written for the American cook – so ounces instead of grams) include fresh and dried herbs from his garden, butter and full cream, and the flavors of France. For any of you who favor French cooking, you will love the recipes. I loved the stories Claire Joyes gives us and the pictures of his kitchen, the foods featured in the book, and the cottage and gardens (from which we have the iris and water lily paintings).  An interesting detail about Monet: he was an often moody and very private man. Although he loved having company in his home, it was always for an early lunch or tea. He retired to bed early to allow for early morning painting.Photo Credit: Apartment Therapy

4) Linnea in Monet’s Garden by Christina Bjork & Lena Anderson – This book is for young readers. Short chapters. Lots of Monet’s paintings. Also whimsical illustrations of Linnea and her trip to Paris, the Marmottan-Monet museum (where many of Monet’s paintings are exhibited), and finally to the Giverny cottage. Linnea in Monet's Garden

Photo Credit: Amazon

A wonderful introduction to Monet for children in early school years. Biographical details pepper the story and a helpful timeline of Monet’s life closes out the book.

[Written in 1985, it may seem a bit strange in today’s world that a young girl would be off traveling with an older neighbor gentleman, Mr. Bloom. Times have changed.]

5) A Picnic with Monet by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober – this is a small boardbook for tiny people. A poem talking through some of Monet’s paintings as if taking off for a picnic makes for easy reading. The paintings are easy to sort out for a preschooler. Sweet book.Photo Credit: Amazon

So…these are my books on Monet. One last detail covered in his biographies as well: Monet developed bilateral cataracts in his 60s. He refused corrective surgery for some time. Finally, he got to the place where he was willing to take the risk, so bothered by the impact of the cataracts on his vision and painting. Enough of a success, he actually returned to some of his painting to touch them up. He also did not finish his Grandes Décorations’ of Waterlilies, on display in Paris’ Musée de l’Orangerie, until after his vision had been restored. Called the Father of Impressionism, the changes in his painting over the years may have been less about a progression of his art and more the reality of cataracts and vision impairment.

The Effect of Cataracts and Cataract Surgery on Claude Monet – Anna Gruener

Who is your favorite artist? How do you share him/her with your visitors or family members? I have a print of one of Monet’s waterlilies paintings over my writing table.

Dave and I went to Paris for our 25th wedding anniversary. It was a trip of a lifetime for us – especially because we set it aside to pursue the feast to the senses that is Paris. On my list was to see Monet’s paintings.

The Best Places to See Monet’s Art in Paris – Lena Blos

We saw some of his paintings, but regrettably a few of my favorites were away on exhibition. Oh well…may have to make it back to Paris one day…and do a day-trip to Giverny.

[Irises from our garden…water lily at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden here in Richmond.]

Bookmarked Summer: Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street

2015 May Blog - Sandra Cisneros House on Mango Street 004 for blog

I love words. Not cruel, lying, arrogant, or mean-spirited ones, of course. I love the kind of words that make stories come alive, where you can see and touch and smell right off the page of the book. Oh to write that way… maybe one day.

A dear friend, who reads my writing because she loves me, shared this book with me. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros. I finally read it…just a few hours long, packed with that pink-orange hue of Mexico. Mexico transplanted in Chicago. Cisneros writes so personally of growing up straddling two cultures – living in Chicago sometimes, and Mexico other times. The book is a small novel, large with details of a family living Mexican in an American city. Sandra Cisneros opens the door to the reader to step into her Mexican American childhood, tucked in a neighborhood, so like Mexico and yet still far from home.

I read some of the reviews by readers of Cisneros’ book. They are extreme in their take on this little book – ranging from those who love her writing,  identifying with her stories, and those who hate that they had to read the novel (for a class, etc.), not seeing Cisneros’ writing as worthy of their time. The criticisms surprised me, and then I understood that her writing is full of strong emotion and bore fruit of that in her readers, one way or another.

I loved the way she invited the reader, one outside of this neighborhood and culture, to be a part of its story. It was impossible to tell what was fiction and what was truly her own childhood.

Below you will find some of my favorite quotes from The House on Mango Street.  I hope you enjoy her words, as I did.

“My mother’s hair…is the warm smell of bread before you bake it, is the smell when she makes room for you on her side of the bed still warm with her skin, and you sleep near her, the rain outside falling and Papa snoring.”

“Those who don’t know any better come into our neighborhood scared. They think we’re dangerous. They think we will attack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people who are lost and got here by mistake. But we aren’t afraid…All brown all around, we are safe. But watch us drive into a neighborhood of another color and our knees go shakity-shake and our car windows get rolled up tight and our eyes look straight. Yeah. That is how it goes and goes.”

“Hips…one day you wake up and they are there. Ready and waiting like a new Buick with the keys in the ignition. Ready to take you where? They’re good for holding a baby when you’re cooking…you need them to dance…if you don’t get them you may turn into a man…they bloom like roses.”

“My Papa, his thick hands and thick shoes…wakes up tired in the dark,..combs his hair with water, drinks his coffee, and is gone before we wake.”

“Everything is holding its breath inside me. Everything is waiting to explode like Christmas. I want to be all new and shiny…a boy around my neck and the wind under my skirt.”

“There were sunflowers big as flowers on Mars and thick cockscombs bleeding the deep red fringe of theater curtains. There were dizzy bees and bow-tied fruit flies turning somersaults and humming in the air. Sweet sweet peach trees…big green apples hard as knees. And everywhere the sleepy smell of rotting wood, damp earth and dusty hollyhocks thick and perfumy like the blue-blond hair of the dead.”

“A house of my own…only a house quiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paper before the poem.”

“I never know what I am feeling till I write about it. Writing makes me feel better when life overwhelms me.” – Sandra Cisneros*

Blog - House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros

*Sandra Cisneros’ Letter to the Sixth-Grade Students of Ms. Jill Faison, Hogan Middle School, Vallejo, California

The House on Mango Street – 25th Anniversary Edition

Photo Credit – Picture of Sandra Cisneros – by ksm36 –  Wikipedia.org