Springtime, Claude Monet, 1886

My mind was going a million miles a minute and my strides were long and fast. My heart was beating like a mouse’s. I had to find my love, my inspiration, my favorite: Van Gogh. My mind was made up, it was Van Gogh or nothing. “Wait. What’s this?” I stop in front of a wonderful array of blues and pinks and greens. The style looked similar to Van Goghs, but something was off. It was too… messy. It surprised me, as I thought no one could have a more chaotic style than Van Gogh, but then it popped into my head, “This must be Monet.” I looked closer at the brush strokes, short and spotty, with random long lines of paint strewn across the canvas. The sign confirmed my suspicion. A sense of warmth ran through me, the feeling that you get when you answer a question right or prove someone wrong. “Springtime,” I read, “1886.”

“Dad is painting us again,” Jean said in a huff, stiffening his back and arching his shoulders. His face went from a peaceful smile to a disgusting grimace. He hated it when Claude painted him. I think he felt like his privacy was being violated, like he was put on display like a zoo animal. “Just sit here and enjoy the orchard. We don’t get to Giverny often,” I mumbled. “It will be over soon.” We sat in silence after that, looking around at the cherry blossoms above our heads, and the grass beneath our feet. The smell was sweet and fresh. “Claude!” I yelled to my step-father, who was sitting on the porch, paint brush in mid-stroke. “It smells like Springtime!”

The two people in the painting are his son Jean and his step-daughter Suzanne,’ I read. I stepped back and looked at the two in the middle of the scene. It seemed as if they were having an important discussion, while also examining the pink cherry blossom trees and the white wheatgrass. It was dawn, or was it dusk? The sun cast a shadow over the ground, making the sky and the trees bright, and the ground and the grass dark. The way that their clothes were painted made them look like they were one with nature. The brown petticoat on Suzanne blended in with the dirt and her yellow hat matched the dandelions in the lush grass. The white shirt on Jean mixed in with the yellow of the wheatgrass and his orangy-yellow cap highlighted the sun setting. They were the animals, they were the plants and they were the trees. They were everything and they were nothing all at the same time.

Jean was getting fidgety, I could see him wiggling his shoulders and tapping his foot. “Jean why don’t I tell you a story?” “What kind of story,” he asked? “A story of the future,” I told him. “Okay,” he turned towards me a little bit with an excited twinkle in his eye. “One day,” I began, “your father will be so respected and so famous, that people all around the world will come and see his work. People will aspire to be like him, and his art will be taught about throughout classrooms everywhere.” “Really?” Jean asked, sparks of hope in his eyes. “Really. I promise Jean. And you know what else?” “What,” he jumped a little bit in excitement. “This painting, the one that your father is tirelessly working on? This one will be the most loved by all. The land around us is already perfect to picture in his work, and we just add to the ambiance. We are almost part of the nature; you are the wheat over there, tall and strong. I am the grass, beautiful and delicate. Together we are the shadows, mysterious and awe-inspiring. We complete the world around us, and people will be able to see that through your father’s eyes.” He just nods. A single tear glistens in his eye, and he allows it to fall down to the crevice of his nose. He is still.

My pen scurried across the page as I rushed to finish my analyzation before the clock struck ten and we had to leave. There was just so much detail and so much depth, I knew I wouldn’t be able to capture it in the short time frame that we were given. The crowdedness at the top where the blossoms reminded me of how little space I had for error. I had to capture the beauty of this painting. I had to make people see the ombre grass that was dark and shadowy at the bottom, but light and feathery at the top. I needed to encapsulate the way the trees stretched across the canvas, casting bright pink and orange hues across the sky. I was desperate to express the little spots of blue and yellow, the sky, poking out through the tree branches. “It’s hopeless,” I thought. “I will never be able to capture this feeling right at this moment.” I walked closer in frustration, looking for something I had missed, something that might propel me forward and take hold of my writing hand. I searched in between each brush stroke until I saw a raggedy maroon piece of paint in the left hand corner. I breathed in slowly, amazed by how close I really was to Claude Monet’s signature. The intimacy I shared with that signature at that moment gave me strength. “I can do it,” I thought, stamping my foot bravely. “Maybe…”

“Jean! Suzanne! I’m finished!” Jean scampers up,very excited to get his blood circulating. I walk calmly over to his canvas where Jean is hugging Claude. “It’s amazing,” he cries! The picture comes into view and it’s really is awe-inspiring. “The colors mix so well together! It’s like you can see the wind whistling through the trees,” I exclaim! I feel the joy welling up inside of me as I look over the brushwork and the coloration of the scene. Everything is perfect, not a thing out of place. “Papa, Suzanne told me a story when we were modeling for you. It was a story of your future and how you were going to be a world renowned artist and how this painting that you just made, how this was going to be the crowning jewel of your work! And how we were the center of the world in this painting and…” Jean trailed off and Claude just chuckled. “I hope that’s true,” Claude said as he looked off into the orchard. “Maybe…”

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