Our third essay from Giverny, France comes from Kristina Reddy MFA 2017.
Every morning I would wake up with the sun – happy, and excited to start the day. And who wouldn’t be, if they awoke in a beautiful home, situated amidst gardens and chirping birds! It is impossible not to see the French countryside as somehow “romantic.”
I think the most wonderful quality that is present here, in Giverny, is tranquility. Away from all the noise and business that we are so used to in New York City, Giverny welcomes us with peace. There is space to think, to wonder, and to just simply BE. It is precisely this nurturing environment that energizes me and gets me excited about going to the studio in the mornings.
I arrived to the residency with the intention to push through all my comfort zones, and to allow myself to make mistakes. Experimenting with acrylics and acrylic mediums, often left me feeling out of control, but also helped me to discover interesting things along the way. I became more confident with my tools, and the way I applied paint. I tried various surfaces—rice paper, duralar, and fabric board—adjusting the how and what kind of material combination worked best for what purpose. Of course, I also painted in oils, working fast so as to leave enough time for the paintings to dry. This process gave me freedom and allowed me to learn about my temperament, resulting in active brushwork and paintings that looked more alive.
Some of the work produced at the residency.
In regards to subject matter, my goal was to paint a series of snapshots of nature, both the terrain and the aquatic environments, and to capture something of life that did not need literal description. I focused on segments of flowers, streams, etc., and tried to embody the essence of the whole in the snapshot of its part. Everything in nature - every flower, every person – exists only as a part of a whole. There is an entire universe living inside each organism. My work was fed by the desire to understand and reconcile the natural and the artificial components of our existence, through the practice of abstracting the organic forms.
Inspired by the Patterns in the Stream
Inspiration in Giverny was inexhaustible—it was everywhere! One day, on a walk up the hill, behind the village, we discovered a group of cows. The animals were so beautiful and impressive that I just had to paint them! We were also lucky to have found some ostriches, kangaroos, and llamas…all, of course, were “natives” to the region!! Once, Matt even found a petite relative of a tarantula, visiting our home…but that is another story.
Cows, Ostriches, and Llamas
With permission from the Claude Monet Foundation, we were able to access the Monet’s gardens and paint directly from the vibrant and beautiful flowers growing there. I took many photographs of the creek and the water lilies—the running water and the plants that were swaying underneath. These became my primary inspiration.
Three weeks does not seem like a long time, but it has brought my classmates and I closer together. We worked hard, inspired and encouraged each other, cooked and ate together, and shared many beautiful moments along the way. And while our time in France, is almost over, I look forward to continuing our journey back in New York.
To everyone we have met during our stay at Giverny: Thank you! You have truly enriched our experience, and we will cherish it forever. Special thanks to Céliane Ainaron, Jan Huntley, Miranda Fontaine, and Véronique Bossard, for taking such a good care of us!
Studio Visit with some of the attendees featured here - Matt, Kurt, Jorge, Kristina, Jan, Dante, Miranda, Lewis, Naudline, François, Ines, Dominic, Charlotte, and Aleksandra
New York Academy of Art students on the road!