Painting: Tropical Sunset

Part 1: Finding a Muse

Searching for inspiration and examples of what ludicrously expensive art looks like, I came across Claude Monet’s San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk (not the real thing, but a small picture of it on my computer screen). I was mesmerised. It wasn’t just how Mr Monet had upped the value of a blank canvas by about a hundred million dollars by putting paint on it in a particular manner, but it was how the painting made me feel something. I liked the painting. I stared at it closely in wonder. As I did, questions stirred within me. What was on Monet’s mind when he painted this? What did San Giorgio Maggiore look like behind the veil of dusk? Does the foreign language in the title make the painting seem better than it really is? Isn’t orange a lovely colour? Inspiration came.

Determined to paint something orange, I searched and found (once again, in picture form on my computer screen) a sweet tropical sunset full of the colour. Though I am no Monet—nor a van Gogh, da Vinci or any other name an internet search for “famous painters” might produce—I figured I would create a piece at least half as good as his (and if it fetched half the price tag, that would be a nice little bonus). Frustratingly, I soon realised my expectations had overlooked my significantly inferior talent, experience and brushes.

Part 2: Painting is Stupid

I mess up the water and have to go over it three times. Waves are hard to get right; I abandon them. The whole bloody thing is falling apart; it looks nothing like the picture on which it is based, and even less like the glorious masterpiece I had envisioned in my head. My wife views my work in progress and says she likes it. Don’t mock me, I know it’s garbage. I suck. Painting is stupid and I’ll never do it again. Might as well finish this one, though. Not as I planned. I smear thick blobs of paint onto my fat brush and slap them against the canvas. Twelve bucks this canvas cost me. What a waste. Slap, slap. Stupid red paint, why can’t you just go where I want you to? Slap. Dumb clouds. Take that! Slap. The slapping is pretty fun, actually. Draw some stupid palm trees. Scribble some colour on the leaves. Scoop the remaining paint from my palette and mash the colours into some sand underneath the trees. Done.

I stand back. Yuck. The water looks like a toddler painted it. Are those supposed to be clouds? They look like a herd of purple buffalo. Why is that tree trunk green?

Part 3: Not So Bad

After I bid my painting good riddance, I went and played with my kids, watered the garden, and then sat on the couch and ate Cheezels.

When I later returned to look at my painting, I felt different. Yes, it still looked like a third-rate Bob Ross paint-along, but I liked it. I liked the colours. I liked the way the sky made me feel. I even liked the clouds (this is art after all, and why the heck shouldn’t purple buffalo stampede across the sky?). It may not be worth a hundred million dollars (though it doesn’t hurt to ask—I’m awaiting email reply from the director of National Museum Cardiff), but it makes me feel something good, and it answers at least one of the questions raised by Monet’s work. Yes, orange is a lovely colour.

Without further ado, Le Coucher de Soleil Tropical:


sunset 2



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