le sketch du jour: July 12, 1980. Dressing for Claude Monet….

by admin

My mother Ginny Graves found these and called them our “Monet Water Lily Dresses.”

Above: My sister Gina, my cousin Laura Ward McCrary, and I are pictured above, dressed for the wedding of my mother’s cousin, Christie Lee Triplett, in St. Louis. Christie Lee was my Grandmother Millie Ward’s niece as Christie’s father, Floyd Lee is the brother of my grandmother, Mildred Lee Ward.

When Claude and I met. 

I knew Claude when I was in pre-school. That is because my mother taught art lessons at the Nelson Art Gallery, so this was my pre-school. But that’s another post.

Anyway, if you have been to the Nelson-Atkins Museum, as it is now called, you have seen the triptych of Monet’s Water Lilies. It  used to be in the large room just to the left of the Nelson Bookstore and Giftshop which are to the left as you enter the gallery turnstiles. Or do they still have the turnstiles?  Anyway, they were and still are mesmerizing to me.

So to visit this real place and the ponds and gardens where Monet painted 16 years after this picture was taken was like being in a dream. The paintings are actually more real than the place, but they are equally beautiful.

Monet Triptych at the Nelson.


Claude in his Gardens.

Saturday July 12, 1980. (from my journal and sketchbook)

Woke. Ran 3. Went to Breakfast.

Met Granda & we took Métro to Gare St. Lazare.  From there we took a train to Vernon and from Vernon a taxi to Giverny, the Gardens where Monet painted. They just re-opened this spring and everything is beautiful.

See the bachelor buttons...

The house is pink stucco with green trim and the gardens were full of bachelor buttons, thistles, and all sorts of little yellow, red, pink & orange blossoms.

Monet's House with Tile workshop at left. Arbors are along pathways throughout the Gardens. colored marker sketch by Paula, summer 1980.

We saw the curved bridges and lily ponds and willows that are in all the paintings.

There was a room of paintings in his house.  Off the entrance were some of his later works which are really dark, but interesting and beautiful but in a different way.

We stayed until 3:30 and took the taxi back to Vernon.  Sat in café with Granda and had a sandwich de jambon (ham sam) & a croque monsieur.

Our train leaves at 6:00 and we are waiting at the station. Dinner tonight is at Grandamolie’s hotel, the Regina, at 7:30. This is the hotel on right bank on the corner just across from the street from the wing of the Louvre where le museé des arts décoratifs is located (where I am going to school).

Seed pearl earring surrounded by suspended bezel of baby seed pearls on French Wires from the Hotel Regina Bijoux & Joaillier Anciens & Antiquaires

Granda gave me a very beautiful pair of antique gold earrings with baby seed pearls in the bezel from the hotel jewelry shop. Teensy tintsy intricate construction, they are about 1/4″ diameter drop on French wires.

(end of journal entry)

Monet's Pink Stucco house with Green Trim at Giverny. I used little sponges to do the trees. This was one of my first painting classes and I'll have to tell you, it identified early on why anal people aren't (initially or ever?) very good painters. Way too tedious and don't take enough artistic license. I'm still trying to get past this stage...oil on canvas by Paula, winter 1983.

The painting above was done later from a photograph in my album from that summer. It’s not an exciting painting, but the colors do capture the place.

So Claude, it was a pleasure to visit your home, and with my Grandmother Millie, which made it even more special. And if only I could paint like you, I would paint a picture of the crossing at the Cimarron River on the XIT Ranch, for it is as beautiful a place as any in your pictures. And, I may still do this. It is clearer in my mind each day.

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