If you want to paint like Monet, you need to travel
Kandinsky delved into abstraction after examining a painting of his that had been hung upside down. It was this change of perspective that triggered his interest, but even his most extravagant compositions were still based on the natural elements that surrounded him.
He would observe them before distancing them from their imposed meaning; he decontextualized them.
Observation has always been a painter’s first step. This is particularly the case for landscape artists. When you look at one of Sorolla’s works, you actually feel like you have been transported to the placid Mediterranean.
Gauguin needed to soak up the Caribbean before he could paint it. Other paintings similarly transport you to inspiring settings. Here are some examples of places that don’t need a photographer to capture their full glory, just an artist with a palette and brush.
Joaquín Sorolla’s Mediterranean-inspired ‘Walk on the Beach’. / Foto: Fundación Museo Sorolla
The vision of Impressionist painters
Of all the schools, Impressionism is undoubtedly among the best known and loved. Paintings that transport the observer to green or blue mountains, or orange and fuchsia dusks.
Claude Monet, the quintessential Impressionist, invites you to marvel at these landscapes, taking you there through his paintings.
Works like ‘Impression, Sunrise’ or ‘Poplars on the Epte’ depict mainly French steppes and rivers. Or landscapes like Giverny, the artist’s home for more than 40 years, where his house can be visited next to the gardens that inspired his well-known ‘Water Lilies’.
Other works put the emphasis on the setting, among them, ‘The Gare St-Lazare’, which he presented at the Third Impressionist Exhibition of 1877.
After seeing the painting, one critic noted: “Monet had already painted it less successfully on other occasions. This time it’s marvellous.”
Heading towards Cubism
On Pablo Picasso’s journey towards Cubism one place proved to be especially inspiring: Horta de Sant Joan. Today this farming village in the province of Tarragona (Spain) is home to the Centre Picasso. ‘Factory at Horto de Ebro’, ‘Houses on the Hill’ and ‘The Reservoir, Horta’ are his legacy.
The Catalan setting also inspired another iconic Spanish artist, Salvador Dalí. The Costa Brava was his canvas: Figueres, where he was born and died; Cadaqués, with his house-museum in the picturesque village of Portlligat and Girona, now home to a museum where surrealist elephants decorate the garden.
And why not? After all, as the surrealist master used to say: ‘The only thing the world will never tire of is exaggeration.”
In Horta Museum they say that “You only need to look out of the window or go for a walk to recognise the original landscapes Picasso saw 100 years ago.”
Japanese woodblock prints
‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji’ is one of the most famous works of Japanese art. The series of woodblock prints, produced in the 19th century by Katsushika Hokusai, captures the might and beauty of the country’s highest peak, located on Honshu island.
The first painting in the series, ‘The Great Wave off Kanawaga’ has become truly iconic.
Cherry blossom evokes one of the most representative scenes of Mount Fuji.
Thanks to Dutch painting, the Netherlands form part of the collective memory. The Masters of the so-called Dutch Golden Age, chief among them Rembrandt, Frans Hals, Johannes Vermeer, dominated the Baroque era. Between them, they left behind famous pictures of canals, vast flat grasslands, cloudy skies and windmills, such as those found in Kinderdijk.
These days protected by World Heritage status, a visit to them can give you the feeling of being trapped inside a painting like Jacob Ruisdael’s ‘The Windmill of Wijk bij Duurstede’.
Rembrandt once said that “Painting is the grandchild of nature.” But everything is cyclical. Scenes admired on canvases. Landscapes that kindled the flame and inspiring paintings that today invite you to travel.
Source: Passenger 6A.