Saturday, February 18, 2012

Camille and Claude and new work....

Monet, "Camille Monet, Death Portrait"
Right now, in the evenings, I'm reading the novel, Claude & Camille by Stephanie Crowley. In the portion I'm reading, he hasn't yet Camille, but is simply finding himself as a painter, having moved away from the somewhat lucrative production of caricatures to landscape painting on a challenge from the older painter Boudin. 

I find it a terrible twist of irony that Camille--who died of virtual starvation, tuberculosis, a botched abortion, or pelvic cancer, depending on whom you ask--never got to see Monet's success or experience the cuisine at Giverny, cuisine that was filled with more sugars and fats than she had likely seen since she was a child. When I started to study art history, my Mum bought Monet's Table, which is rich with photographs of Givery's lovely yellow and blue kitchen. Its blue and white delft tiles are bright in the mid-day sun, while shafts of light gleam on copper pots. Several images show the opulent dining room table heavy under the weight of food: big, goggle-eyed fish; jellied compotes; pots of butter. I didn't think about how terribly ironic Camille's death was until I saw her death portrait (pictured above) in my college Impressionism course. I remember my art history professor saying that Monet himself explained that he couldn't help but to paint her, when he saw her lying there, enshrouded. The light and shadows on her face were too beautiful. Certainly, I understand that people grieve differently, but that statement struck me as somehow insensitive, even back then, when I was in my early 20s. Giverny and its rich cuisine was still relatively far into Monet's future, but I then began to put together the difference between his life when Camille was alive with his life after Camille's death.

Claude Monet and his first wife, Camille Doncieux
Photo credit

I never got to see Giverny when I had the chance to visit Paris, since I was there in March (of 1998) and it closes for the winter for part of each year. I'd like to back and see the gardens that are dedicated to Camille, who was Monet's principal supporter in his leanest times, who ultimately gave her life for his art.

In my own studio, a few things are brewing: 1) a label for our honey products and 2) a watercolor and ink collage, or as I like to call it, 'fun with india ink and paper'. The honey label features my husband's paternal grandfather, known by the Polish nickname for grandpa, or 'Dziadek' (pronounced, at least in our family as "Judgie"). Originally, what was at the end of the reins was a large, black horse. I had a little fun with Photoshop and replaced the draft horse with a bee. We're raisining bees on the farm now and selling honey after all! Here are the images:

Guz Bees honey bottle label, featuring Thomas Guz
a.k.a. "Dziadek" (Polish for grandpa)

Savannah Schroll Guz, "Super Nature"
watercolor, india ink, ballpoint pen, paper collage

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