Painting in Claude Monet’s Garden: Dream Come True

By Jingyi Wang (MFA 2016)

About Giverny

Last week I came to Giverny with my three classmates from the New York Academy of Art for our residency with the Terra Foundation. We had a wonderful week here, everything went well.

Giverny is a really beautiful village thanks to two things that can be seen anywhere, Claude Monet and flowers. Because Monet had been living here in his late life, Giverny became a world-famous village. The lack of streets makes bike riding the primary transport and this allows us to see the special countryside scenery. When I stand on the street, I always imagined how this village looked at the time of Monet. Was it as beautiful as nowadays?

In Giverny we visited Monet’s house and garden, as well as the impression museum. They gave me have a good understanding about Monet.

About Monet’s Garden

As a painter, it is a great honor to be able to paint in Monet’s garden. I need to thank my school who gives me this opportunity. Before I came to NYAA, I studied in China where impression has an important position. I still remember the first time I saw impressionism was when I was 14 years old. My mother took me to Beijing to see a great exhibition called Sunshine & Impression that included fifty-one impressionist French paintings. I was attracted by the bright colors of the painting, and it was from this that I decided to become a professional painter. Also at that time, Claude Monet became my favorite artist. Eleven years later everything changed in my mind, but I still remember that was the reason I became a painter. I painted in Monet’s garden everyday even after it closed to the public at 6PM (meaning all tourists gone) leaving only the quiet garden and me. I enjoyed this time very much, painting here was my childhood dream. I spend a lot of my time excitedly painting the lily pond. It is beautiful but very hard to paint. The colors are too similar to control. That gave me a profound understanding of Monet; I marvel at him that he can have so much imagination from this garden.

Nowadays, the garden has been changed a lot, but the surroundings still give people the same feelings as it did a hundred years ago. Many gardeners and volunteers come here to study horticulture technology. When I was painting in the street, many tourists were watching me and sometime we would have a conversation. I asked them why did do you choose to come here for your vacation? They always answered, “Because of Monet.” Everyone came here because they felt this great master’s magnetism.

About Monet house

As a tourist, I looked around Monet’s house yesterday. There were many paintings hung on the walls of the study room. All the colors are harmonious in his house. Through green windows we can also see his colorful garden. Whether inside or out, it is a beautiful house.

About Flowers & My Work Here

For me, the most interested thing living here are the flowers. Since last semester, I began to paint plants including flowers for my work. I also used watercolor to create a series of flowers named ‘Flower Talk’. I liked painting the plants, because they were blooming and withering just as some human beings do, and I became inspired from this fragility. I enjoyed describing their most wonderful time and dying moments. Plants may appear more vulnerable than humans, but they are still alive without fear.

In Giverny, I can find flowers anywhere. I cannot stop my eyes from looking at them, cannot stop my hand from painting them.

What a wonderful week we have here, I think we will have learned a lot after we finish our residency.

Altos de Chavón: Balance

by Sarah Novio (MFA 2015)

Last week, Jess Leo (MFA 2015) and I taught our workshop: Painting/Collage and Woodcut Printmaking. Considering we only had a week to cover all of that, I think we did a pretty good job. The first half of the week I taught the students painting and collage, and Jess took over the second half of the week to teach them woodcut printmaking. The students worked really hard and were excited about learning about the new mediums.

After we finished the workshop, we were able to pick up the pace in art making again.

Working alongside Jess was great because I enjoyed seeing how her drawings develop over time and in many sessions.

Though our time in the studio was productive, we realized that we also needed to have fun and not take ourselves so seriously. During the last week of our residency, we set aside days to do what we wanted (Sight seeing in Santo Domingo, driving down to the beaches, hiking down the river, watch the sunrise, etc.)

Looking back at the last month, I’m happy with the way we spent our time here. I learned that if I wanted to continue to teach and paint, I have to find balance. Being in a different country made it easier and harder to achieve that, but it made this trip worthwhile.

Reflections on Istanbul

by Jaclyn Dooner (MFA 2015)

My artist in residency in Istanbul has furthered my resolve, commitment and passion to be an artist.

An undergraduate BFA and 7 years as an Art director in the advertising community, coupled with two incredible years at the Academy have given me strong technical skills to pursue a painting career. Istanbul has provided the emotional inspiration and confidence in myself to make my career a reality.

I spent 5 weeks in Istanbul, viewing, exploring, reading and working with Tatiana, Simon and Austin. We experienced it all.

We saw contemporary art created from bullet holes, to architecture that spans thousands of years and multiple cultures (Europe, Asia, Muslims, Christians) to crazy Byzantine cave frescos (in Cappadocia).

Istanbul has a political and social environment that is always in a state of flux.

At any given time there are Christian issues, Muslim issues, Communist issues, Police issues, etc. I have to admit, sharing this culture was indeed interesting but sometimes scary. The tension on the streets could also be felt within the gallery walls. Much of the contemporary work we saw dealt with this civil unrest. It was that much more impactful viewing the work within the country that was experiencing this complex political and social climate. All the art in Turkey is privately owned. Brilliant work shared with so few.

We saw an interesting show, “Every Inclusion is an Exclusion of other Possibilities” at SALT gallery that directly addressed this dichotomy. The exhibition brought together aspects of three private, independent collections in order to open a dialogue and critique around the act of collecting and publicly sharing.

Lastly, but most importantly, the ‘four amigos’ toured together, cooked together, critiqued together, and worked together which gave me an insight that artists need not be alone in their endeavor, but rather collaboration and friendship can and does stimulate your thinking and advance your artistic confidence.

Istanbul, view from our residence

Eyup, Istanbul

Detail of piece created from bullet holes in “Every Inclusion is an Exclusion of other Possibilities” at SALT Gallery

“Every Inclusion is an Exclusion of other Possibilities” at SALT Gallery

Hagia Sophia Exterior

Hagia Sophia Interior

Hagia Sophia Interior

Blue Mosque

Plein Air Painting in Buyukada

The Studio

The Studio

The Studio

Home cooked dinner at the apartment

Beijing Adventures Come to an End

The Anxiety of Progress And The Foreign Becomes Familiar
by Sophia Kayafas (MFA 2016)

We are down the street from CAFA and the five of us have just finished a bowl of hot spicy noodles at the Satisfactory Restaurant. The chopsticks are second nature by now. We slurp noodles in record time.

I keep thinking how we came to China starving for something fresh and interesting, and we didn't even really know it. And we arrived at this grand table with many dishes filled generously with steaming varieties of new tastes, flavors, and smells.

Maybe at first it was overwhelming, exotic and foreign, but after tasting it all, we have come to appreciate a new world of sweet, savory, spicy and delicious flavors. We have had such an enriching experience here in China. One where many fulfilling bonding experiences, fantastic views and inspiring exchanges, have taken place in a life changing six weeks.

We have been stretched and pulled in all directions, but with only five days left, we are still managing to squeeze every last drop out of China that we possibly can. We have seen many incredible museums and galleries, made new friends, done plenty of exploration in beautiful temples, hilarious karaoke hotels, magnificent forbidden cities - and finally today - we climbed the amazing Great Wall.

I have become acutely aware of my speedy growth in China. I have noticed an anxiety creeping up as I grow and learn, and I think it has to do with how we shut doors when making commitments to changes. Opening doors can sometimes mean closing other ones, and I always feel like I might lose something precious from moving forward. Either way, I think that this anxious feeling is a good measure of progress for me. And I think I will come away from this trip with the ability to fight that tendency with a little more awareness.

So, I have hundreds of pictures, souvenirs, paintings and great memories made here to remember everything, but what I will miss the most are the friendships I have made and must leave behind. Melody, Peng Peng, Tzhe Zou, Quentin and many other amazing people have taught us so much about life by sharing their perspectives and personalities with us on a daily basis. We have all bonded in a beautiful way in this strange mess of absurd situations. Maybe we will see each other again, maybe not, but we have exchanged some invisible forces that will always keep us connected. I have been privileged enough to witness humanity and a culture with its own logic and rules; and even in all of its foreignness, has become oddly familiar. I will always remember it.

So what can I possibly say, besides, I am full. I have had a full course meal, and I am completely satisfied, and I think we can all agree, it is definitely time to come home!

I think I must leave our little bun behind. Too many loops to jump through, but Peng Peng adopted him and I know he will be in good hands. I think he has really bonded us all together and given some excellent comfort and studio support.

The Great Wall was like this idea I had been counting on and imagining the whole trip. We finally got there and it broke everything in my mind's expectations. It was magnificent, but the most impressive aspect for me was actually the mountain it was balanced on. The wall is like this elegant white lace gracefully drifting across the very tops of these massive high rolling mountains. There were clear blue skies above too. We made it to the top with sunburns and sweat stains and sketched about it. We also participated in some ancient Chinese Kung Fu.

We had our gallery opening in 798. It was super successful and our work hung proudly on the walls. Daniela curated. She pulled us together and cleaned up our loose ends. We let the boys get the food, and they came back with two bags of lays chips and four varieties of alcohol.

We ate a Mongolian meal with a great friend we met at CAFA. It was unexpectedly good.

One night we went to a karaoke hotel and sang Brittany Spears and Whitney Houston songs in a small leather seated disco room for seven hours until about 5 am. So as you can see, we have seen many sides of each other during this trip so far. It has been interesting.

I learned so much about what it means to be an American during my stay in China. I am so thankful for my country, and I feel oddly patriotic being so far from home. We will see how long it lasts when I get back to NYC, but man I can't wait to take a deep juicy breath of clean air.

Wish us luck… the plane ride home is probably going to be miserable.