Warmington School/Titchmarsh Primary ‘Monet’ Mural

21.11.14

Four years on from Black Sunday and what better way to celebrate my recovery than by spending the anniversary painting a mural and participating in another ‘Sharing Day’ with Warmington and Titchmarsh Schools. This time there was a French theme, with the children coming together to experience a day filled with a variety of activities, one of which being to work with me to paint another mural. This was our third mural collaboration, having joined forces last year to produce a celebration ‘Unity’ mural and a few months ago to create a very large ‘Mad Tea Party’.

Earlier in the week I had given a presentation of ‘The Story of Impressionism’ and led some drawing workshops, both in the classroom as well as en plein air. Josie Milton, Executive Head, suggested Claude Monet as the subject of our mural on this occasion, in particular the large water lily paintings produced toward the end of his life which formed the monumental Grand Decorations series now housed at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris.

Claude Monet Studio 5With this being the centenary year of the outbreak of the Great War the subject seemed very appropriate. Monet painted the Water Lily Pond at his garden in Giverny as well as the Weeping Willows repeatedly during the war years, employing the latter as the motif as an homage to the fallen French soldiers. After the horror of the First World War, the purpose of the Grand Decorations series was to encourage the visitor to gaze in endless contemplation. Monet wanted his work to take on a poetic dimension and provide a haven for peaceful meditation. Our mural was intended to act in a similar fashion in the school, to be seen as a meaningful and thought provoking image, but also to commemorate the anniversary of this event.

The object was not to paint a slavish reproduction of a Monet painting but to enjoy the Impressionist technique of applying pure colour in an active and spontaneous manner, and to create a landscape which is constantly moving. The structure of our composition was loosely based upon ‘Le Matin aux saules’ and ‘Le Matin clair aux saules’, but includes influences of other paintings within the Grand Decorations too.

It was a very enjoyable day with energetic mark making and daubs aplenty, regardless of the age group involved. Within the confined area of the corridor not all of the children in each group could work with me at the same time, so I devised a second activity to take place in the Main Hall. During the course of the day the children had not only participated with the painting of the mural located in the corridor leading to the Main Hall but had also contributed to a separate composite image produced on paper too.

Monet explained that ‘Landscape is nothing but an impression, and an instantaneous one’, and this project certainly followed that example. The painting measures approx. 92″x196″ and was produced in a very short space of time, one day was spent with all the children making painterly marks and I spent another working alone to bring the painting to a conclusion.

photo 3

The end result is a not a copy of a Monet, it’s a painting inspired and influenced by Monet. I’d like to think that if he saw us working, that it brought a smile to his face and that upon completion he’d give our ‘Nymphéas’ a nod of approval and a thumbs up too!