Painting under the spell of Monet


Art and story by Mo Conlan

During a dark time in my life, I began to paint -- to find my way back to light and joy. This began my life as an artist. Now, I juggle words and colors.

I am painting water lilies on my bedroom wall – a long wall about the size of the canvases Monet used for his water lilies. I go to the library, drag out oversize art books and drink in Monet’s lovely, light-filled pictures.

Having a whole wall as canvas is so freeing. Brushing on blues and greens , mixing white and a dab of orange to make peach for the blossoms. Getting into the rhythm. Using an old bath sponge to swirl paint in big arcs to show movement of the water. With a fine-haired brush, daubing on tiny freckles of paint for accent.

If no other tool is at hand that suits, I use my finger to smooth out a petal or to blend the green into the blue water. I get the colors all over me – hands, shirt, shoes, into the crevasses of the ring my mother gave me when I was a girl.

I feel for a moment what Monet might have felt sinking into the picture. The exhilaration as lily pads and blossoms begin to emerge. Nothing left of the world but artist, paint and canvas.

There is a story told about Monet that once he was so engrossed in a seacape that he did not see the tide come in. It swept away his paintbox, canvas and easel. It swept him into the sea.He almost drowned, and when he staggered out of the water, he was covered in his paints – vest, shirt and trousers stained red and blue and yellow.

That’s how I want to paint, how I want to write, how I want to live.

Maureen ~ Mo~ Conlan is a journalist, writer of poetry and fiction and an artist.

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