Thursday, November 18, 2010

Monet & Me



Monet's Garden at V├ętheuil, 1881 (National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA)

This painting is following me around. Although it is quite a popular piece, I have been noticing it a lot lately. I was looking online for some new prints to put in my house, this one caught my eye again. I am going to need to buy a print of it. 

My love of the Impressionists flows naturally from my mother and grandmother, of course. For years and years before I ever had children, this seemed a perfect piece to hang in a nursery. It seems peaceful to me. As I was researching it this morning, I discovered that it was painted after the death of the artist's wife Camille, and that this garden, landscaped by Monet himself, was planted at a rented house. He had to get special permission from his landlord to do it.

To say that nurseries have been on my mind lately would be an understatement. The last week has been a flurry of activity and then nervous waiting to see if we can work out the details to move Little A and her baby sister Little B into our house. They are currently in an emergency foster care placement, and we would like to care for them. It is a huge unknown and a huge gamble. We could have them only for a few months. There is always the slimmer than slim chance that they would stay with us longer. Any other placement would have been unthinkable right now, as we are still waiting to finalize Little J's adoption. But A lived with us for 2 years, and to be honest I wouldn't mind visiting the piece of my heart that she carries.

So I have been seeing this print everywhere lately. The most recent sighting was in the restroom of an Italian delicatessen that Tony and I went to for lunch yesterday. Seeing it so out of context seemed a soothing omen. Either we are meant to get these girls and it is going to work out this time, or even if we lose them we are going to be okay.

Monet threw himself into his work after losing his wife, and painted some of the most lasting images of his career during that time in his life. I'm no Monet of course, but I know a little bit about epic loss and the dramatic and beautiful aspects of suffering.

Of course, I would prefer it if I could capture some of the peaceful cheerfulness of this painting. Who knows how Monet was actually feeling when he painted it. Perhaps he loved sunflowers because it is impossible not to smile while gazing upon them. Somebody remind me to plant some in the spring.