Going Impressionist in Monet's Garden

Monet's Garden -- a little less than an hour by train from Paris -- is a wonderful place to flee from the hustle and bustle of the French capital. Assuming you are off-season of course, because the crowds do descend come summer.

Spring of 2013 in France was very wet, but we chose a relatively sunny day to visit Giverny, the small village where Claude Monet and his garden lived. The gardens are not huge but are quite beautifully laid-out. I began just doing some straight photography of the flowers but quickly realized that a tulip is much the same, whether in France, Holland or the US. (I've photographed flowers in Corsica, Provence, the South Tyrol, the Botanical Gardens of New York, southern Utah, and elsewhere. Without an environmental setting, there is little to distinguish one floral location from another one.)  A more creative approach was called for.

I began by mounting a neutral density filter on my lens. ND filters cut the amount of light coming into a camera's sensor or film. This allows for long exposures in bright sunlight without overexposure. The effects can be quite dreamy with blurred clouds, mist-like surf, and silky-smooth waterfalls. To achieve those effects one must mount the camera on a tripod so that everything else that is not in motion, remains tack sharp. In Monet's Garden I wanted a different look. Instead of mounting the camera on a tripod, I hand-held it for several to many seconds of exposure whilst moving it slowly about. The intent was to create photographic impressionism. I tried many different movement techniques, positions, and of course different flowers and arrangements. 

It was not clear what I would end up with until later that evening when I began processing the files. Many of the images were either too blurry or too boring (or both) but a small handful held promise. With further processing a very small body of images emerged from that shoot. These then are a sampling of my "impressions" of Monet's Garden.

I am pretty certain that were Claude Monet alive today he would be painting, rather than creating "photo impressions." His work was and is very tactile and there is something very physical about using brush and palette knife, canvas and paints. Yes, he would still be a painter. But, I am not, and so this is my photographic nod to his genius.



Travel, Architecture and Landscape are the palettes upon which Jeff Clay, the principal of Clayhaus Photographyphotographs. Travel to Paris, visit his dreamy creative galleries, or stop into Local Colors to see what's hanging. He lives in Salt Lake City, UT with his wife, Bonnie, and their three wild and crazy retrievers.



Stay Cool & Creative

Local Colors of Utah’s July Artist Show is entitled “Stay Cool & Creative.” This show features the creative watercolors of plein-air artist Blaine Clayton and the very cool encaustic creations of Doug Quillinan. Blaine writes about his art…”My watercolor work seems to paint itself. Sometimes I feel I have made a mess of things and put the painting away only to come back to it later and find it is quite nice after all.” Doug’s art is inspired by old art history books, which may explain his working in the ancient medium of encaustic wax. This artistic medium dates back over 2000 years.

As the summer boils on Stay Cool & Creative with Local Colors of Utah.

Plein-Air Painting

My featured show in July  is "Cool and Creative in the Summertime." Many of the paintings were completed at various Plein-Air paint outs from Logan to Moab. My favorite medium is watercolor. Sometimes it is out of control and seems to paint itself, sometimes one needs to quit painting while the sparkle is still on the paper and sometimes you feel you have made a mess of things only to put the painting away and come back to it later finding it was not so bad after all.

Local Colors and the 4th of July

Local Colors is proud to support the 15th annual Sugar House July 4th Arts Festival. This free event featuring the pet parade, live music, activities for children, food, and of course arts and crafts! The Art Fest will be held on July 4th from 10am to 7pm, Highland Drive just south of 2100 South.  Stop by our booth and chat with our artists and if you need to cool off, our gallery at 1054 East 2100 South will be open.

Summertime Stories Group Artist Show

Summertime…a season of sun, light, warmth, barbecues, fireworks, festivals, traveling, children enjoying their months’ long break, long slow evenings…a time for stories and storytelling. In June, Local Colors of Utah Fine Art Gallery begins summer with a celebration of bright, new work and a group artist show entitled “Summertime Stories.” Join us for Gallery Stroll (June 20, 6-9pm) and see what artistic stories we tell this summer. 

Zoom In Zoom Out Featured Artist Show

Zoom In Zoom Out describes the contrasting and complimentary styles of local photographic artists Hayley Leishman and Rebecca Gates. Through unique perspectives, each shares her appreciation for the natural world around her. Zoom In to see magnificent creations in delightful detail, then Zoom Out to experience a breathtaking world of color and grandeur at Local Colors' May featured show!

A Short Visit to Kinkaku-ji

There is good reason that most visitors to Kyoto have Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion) high on their must-see list. In any season, the exquisite and serene beauty of the small 3-story temple surrounded by graceful, dark-green pines, standing above an calm pond, its reflection shimmering brilliantly, is not to be missed. This means of course that the serenity projected by this gorgeous structure and grounds, must be matched by the calmness within oneself, as you will be confronted with bus and sight-seeing crowds. They are for the most part very well-behaved (this is Japan after all!) and if the patient photographer waits, he or she will be rewarded with people-free images.

Google this temple and you will see countless images similar to the first photograph presented here. This is the more or less standard Golden Pavilion shot ... and for good reason! The setting was seemingly designed for camera on tripod, canvas on easel. But just as when you photograph Delicate Arch at sunset and Mesa Arch at sunrise, you should work to achieve your own vision and interpretation of those iconic images.

What about expressing that very colourful scene in infrared light, converted to black and white? Or perhaps a side glance teasingly hinting at its overall beauty? 

Finally a view as if one just happened upon the temple, peeking through pine boughs, with only its blinding, watery reflection clearly discerned. Any which way you look at the Golden Pavilion, it is a marvel of composition and setting. 

The building looks quite old, and indeed the original temple dates back to the late 1300's. But mimicking the Zen Buddhist precept of life as illusion, what we see before us in only 60 years old. In 1950 a monk named Hayashi Yoken burned down the 550 year-old edifice. Was he merely insane -- as the court that tried him found -- or was he besotted by the beauty of the temple and compelled to destroy that which he so loved? If that sounds the stuff of a novel -- vivid, poetic, melodramatic, tragic -- it is. Yukio Mishima -- one the giants of 20th century Japanese literature and still considered a vivid, poetic, melodramatic and tragic figure -- wrote a fictionalized account of the Golden Temple and its effect on the obsessed monk. 

Whatever the truth of the temple's burning, as the phoenix atop the building seems to imply, from the ashes of its destruction, it stands again. And, we are thankful for that.




Travel, Architecture and Landscape are the palettes upon which Jeff Clay, the principal of Clayhaus Photographyphotographs. Travel to the East and view his Japan galleriesHe lives in Salt Lake City, UT with his wife, Bonnie, and their three wild and crazy retrievers.



Caravanserai | Journey to Elsewhere Featured Artist Show

Local Colors of Utah Fine Art Gallery is pleased to announce our April featured artist show, "Caravanserai | Journey to Elsewhere."

Discover the vivid travel photography of Jeff Clay and the exotic jewelry of Debbie Valline begoinning this Friday, April 18th. 

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