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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monet And Me

Gardens that inspired countless artists remain a powerful draw today

This Article Features Photo Zoom

monet and me
Days spent in Monet’s garden can’t help but be a powerful inspiration.
Day One. Light whispered through the streets of the tiny French village, touching the hollyhocks beside the walls, the roses in the window boxes, the lavender. Ten photographers walked with a purpose that morning, while I, the eleventh, kept thinking, “Hey, stop. Let’s shoot here. How could it get any better?”

Finally, beside a giant green door in a nondescript wall, we stopped. At the stroke of 7, the door swung open. As we crossed through a large, dark workroom, I could have sworn I heard a man’s voice saying softly,


“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece....”

Then we were back in the light, and before us stretched the gardens of Claude Monet. I couldn’t quite believe it. Better than the photographs I’d seen, better even than I’d imagined, a seemingly endless display of light, color, texture and line. Again I heard the voice,

“My garden is my most beautiful masterpiece....”

I was coteaching a 10-day workshop with Mark Lissick (www.wildlightnaturephotography.com). Mark had developed the workshop, booked a lovely and historic old mill turned bed-and-breakfast for our lodging, created a marvelous array of teaching assignments, shared his own wonderful work and, beyond the beyond, negotiated for two years with the Monet Foundation to gain permission for us to photograph in the gardens twice each day—before they opened to the public, and again, after they closed and the tourists were gone!

Day Two. When Mark asked me to join him in Giverny, my intellect was hesitant. I’ve never considered myself much of a macro photographer and couldn’t quite see myself spending 10 days in a garden. Luckily, my intuition had no such reluctance, “Let’s do it!” I found myself saying before my mind could stop me.


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