“My life has been nothing but a failure.” – Claude Monet
As artists’ canvases progress in our studios in the Ponzio Art Center, we try to remind each other every single day that the creative process is far from easy. We support each other when we are frustrated and practice the perseverance we know to be so important. We tell each other and ourselves not to give up. We try to embrace our failures, something that is far easier said than done.
“Color is my day-long obsession, joy and torment.” – Claude Monet
Last month our Advanced Painting class traveled with the French Department to see Claude Monet: The Truth of Nature at the Denver Art Museum. Forty of us got on the bus with differing expectations. Some of us boarded with elated enthusiasm to see this famous art icon’s work in person. Some boarded with a sense of complacency, feeling as though we knew what to expect, feeling as though we have been saturated with images of this prolific painter for our lifetimes. I can say with confidence that we all returned deeply affected by our experience and not for the reasons many expected.
“I am very depressed and deeply disgusted with painting. It is really a continual torture.”– Claude Monet
As we explored this collection of 120 oil paintings and listened to their stories told by the curator, it was clear that no part of this work was easy for Monet. We were reminded, struggle is good…and necessary. Monet traveled the world on what seems like a quest to solve a multitude of puzzles he was placing in front of himself. He tackled quickly changing atmospheres along with the vast effects of light on oceans, fields, and in the sky. He tenaciously painted the same scenes over and over.
“No one but myself knows the anxiety I go through and the trouble I give myself to finish paintings which do not satisfy me and seem to please so very few others.” – Claude Monet
As we returned to the studios we work in, we realized that we must continue to present ourselves new challenges and never be satisfied with what is easy. We must identify within ourselves what we enjoy struggling through, for it is then that we find out what will hold our attention and devotion and lead us to the most rewarding work. Some might consider Monet an artistic genius, and his struggles were as real as they are for the rest of us.
“I’m not performing miracles, I’m using up and wasting a lot of paint.” – Claude Monet