One of Claude Monet's outstanding achievements was the design and construction of the gardens at his home at Giverny - which then provided subjects for many of his more famous paintings. I did this pastel painting of the Grande Allée at Giverny a while back. The nasturtiums cover the path and gradually make their way across the path over the course of the summer.
The painting was done on an abrasive pastel board by Rembrandt, using mainly Unison pastels. I was exploring the impact of the use of complementary colours - predominantly lemon yellows/acid greens and purple blues - but also pale turquoisey blues and small amounts of orange. There is also a tiny amount of red - which will always show up when set against its complement - green. One of the reasons for tackling the painting in this way - quite apart from the natural colour of the subject matter - was because of the way in which Monet composed the colours of his garden so that they would achieve maximum impact in colour terms. I also very deliberately located the door at the end of the Grande Allée in one of the 'sweet spots'
I did a smaller colour study before tackling this larger one - which now hangs on the wall of the guest bedroom in my mother's home. I managed to get a photograph of it last week while visiting. It's a great painting to stare at when waking up or dozing off!
For those who'd like to know more about the gardens:
- Claud Monet's house and garden - main website for Giverny and a source of a lot of information about the garden.
- plan of the gardens at Giverny - the Grande Allée is in the centre of the top garden which is next to the house - the plan shows the arches over which plants climb. The garden at the bottom is the one around the pond which is home to his waterlilies.
- how to paint at Giverny - painting while people are visiting the garden is difficult but not impossible however permission can be sought to visit the garden on a Monday when the garden is not open to the public.