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Posts Tagged ‘Monet’

During a visit yesterday to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna, Virginia, I was reminded of my favorite artist—Claude Monet. During the last thirty years of his life, water lilies (Nymphéas in French) were the main focus of his artistic production. One of the museums that I most love visiting is the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, because it houses eight massive water lily murals by Monet in two specially-built oval rooms. It is incredibly peaceful to just sit in one of those rooms, surrounded by those amazing paintings.

I was delighted and a little surprised yesterday to see that some water lilies were already in bloom. There was a lot of vegetation surrounding the pond in which the beautiful flowers were floating, so there were some limits to my ability to compose my shots. Still, I am pretty happy with the images that I was able to capture.

Perhaps you will find yourself as captivated by the water lilies as I was.

Water lily

Water lily

water lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

 

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Water lilies are now blooming at Occoquan Bay National Wildlife Refuge, which recently has become my favorite place to explore with my camera.  Yesterday I could see lots of them in a distant pond that was not accessible. I was happy, though, to be able to capture this image of one that was just within range of my zoom lens.

Water lilies are so exquisite that a single bloom is sufficient to fill me with a sense of beauty and tranquility. Is it any wonder that water lilies were the main focus of Monet’s artistic production during the last thirty years of his life?

water lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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There is something really special about water lilies (g. Nymphaea)—it’s easy for me to understand why impressionist painter Claude Monet was obsessed with them. During my recent visit to Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. many of the water lilies were closed up, probably because of the extreme heat of the midday sun, but I did manage to get some shots.

The traditional white water lilies tend to have a calming effect on me. For those folks looking for a bit more passion, there were also some fiery red water lilies.

Water lily

water lily

water lily

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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While I was at Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in Washington D.C. on Monday, it was easy to understand Monet’s endless fascination with water lilies. My opening image of a small wooden bridge brings to mind several of Monet’s paintings of the Japanese Bridge in his water garden at Giverny.

bridge at Kenilworth

Water lilies seem to draw me in and surround me with an overwhelming sense of beauty and tranquility. How can I possibly capture that feeling in a photo? Here are a few images to show you some of the different approaches that I used in attempting to show the irresistible attraction of water lilies.

water lily at Kenilworth

water lilies at Kenilworth

pink water lilies at Kenilworth

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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The water lilies at one of my local gardens seem to be blooming a little late this year, but two of them finally were in bloom yesterday. Here’s a shot one of them and if you look closely you’ll notice a damselfly perched on the water lily. The image is not in his style, but water lilies always remind me of Monet, one of my favorite painters.

water_lily_blog

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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There is a spot in a back corner of my marshland park that I love to visit in the early morning, when the light produces beautiful reflections in the still waters of a small pond.

It’s accessible only by an informal muddy trail, so I don’t have to share the moments of tranquility with the baby strollers and power walkers that interrupt my conversations with nature when I am on the boardwalk. Sometimes I will see ducks and geese here and I have even spotted a bald eagle perching in a tall tree, but the main draw for me is not the wildlife—it’s the sense of peace that envelopes me when I am here.

Sometimes I like reflections in which you can easily identify the objects being reflected, like the two trees in the first image. Other times, I get lost in the reflections themselves, which can result in a Monet-like abstract image like the second image below.

All of us are looking for an inner peace—this is one place in which I am able to experience a few moments of that peace.

reflection1_blogreflection2_blog

Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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I haven’t seen a frog in a couple of weeks, but the turtles and snakes still make an appearance when the sun is high overhead, seeking somehow to warm themselves in the rays of the sun.

The first shot is a red-eared slider turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans), a type that I have featured before in blog posts. I find them to be amazingly photogenic. In this shot, I particularly love the reflection that he is casting. The blue of the water is a little unusual and reminds me a little of some of Monet’s paintings in which he used a similar blue.

Sunning turtle in the fall

The second image is a head shot of a Northern Water snake (Nerodia sipedon). He was stretched out in a grassy portion of the marsh, probably trying to expose the maximum amount of his body to the sun. I got down pretty low to get the shot and, as you can see, the grass made it difficult to get an unobstructed shot.

Sunning snake in the fall

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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For much of my life I have loved impressionist paintings and especially those of Monet. Monet painted a series of approximately 250 paintings of Water Lilies (or Nymphéas) and they were the main focus of his artistic work for the last thirty years of his life, according to Wikipedia .

Last November I spent countless hours at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris visually exploring eight massive paintings of water lilies by Monet that covered the walls of two large oval rooms. The painting were all different and covered the themes of morning, clouds, green reflections, sunset, reflections of trees, clear morning in the willows, morning in the willows, and two willows.

The Musée de l’Orangerie allows you to see each of the paintings in high definition on the internet but navigation is not exactly direct. Click first in the left column of the main page on “Les Nymphéas” and then on “L’ensemble de l’Orangerie”  which brings you to a page with all of the paintings. You click on the painting you want to examine and click again on the box that says “explorez le tableau” (“explore the painting”). You then can drag your mouse to see each part of the painting or zoom in at 2x or 4x. There also are detailed explanations of the paintings in French that are fascinating, as is a history of Monet and these paintings. You get to that part of the website by following the previous directions and selecting “De Giverny à l’Orangerie” instead of L’ensemble de l’Orangerie.” I should warn you that it is very easy to lose track of time as you take in the beauty of these paintings.

I love photographing water lilies surrounded by green lily pads, with reflections of their beauty in the dark water, the same flowers featured in Monet’s paintings. Until this past weekend, however, all the water lilies that I had seen had been pure white in color. At Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens I encountered and managed to photograph some water lilies that were a beautiful pink in color.  They made quite an impression on me.

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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