Tag Archives: fine art

Impressions of the Masters

“People discuss my art and pretend to understand as if it were necessary to understand, when it’s simply necessary to love.” -Claude Monet

I didn’t really gain an appretation for fine art until I was an adult, and even now I can’t claim to be any great authority on the subject.  I can’t hold intellectual discussions about the artist’s technique or the symbolism of a particular piece.   My basis for judging art is very subjective and personal: do I like or not?  Does it move me or not?

Sometimes this makes me seem quite uncultured.  For example, a friend of mine was appalled when she learned I was going to Paris but didn’t have any plans to see the Mona Lisa in the Louvre.  It’s shocking, I know, but I’m confessing it now: for being one of the most famous paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa doesn’t do much for me. That’s not meant as a criticism to Leonardo DaVinci, it’s just my own personal taste.

Instead, I’m much more intrigued by the D’Orsay than the Louvre.  I’m thrilled by the prospect of seeing Monet’s Impressions of a Sunrise, and Blue Dancers by Degas.

One of the things I’ve learned as a photographer is to seek out things that inspire you, no matter what the form.  I gain inspiration from artists, photographers, people, music, films, nature, and literature.   And it turns out that while I still have a great respect and admiration for the great masters such as DaVinci and Rafael, their work just doesn’t inspire to my romantic sensibilities as much as some other artists.  I freely admit, I like pretty things!  🙂

My favorite art museum that I’ve visited thus far is the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.  It’s such a beautiful building filled with centuries of art from all over the world.  …And best of all…they let you take pictures (just keep your flash off)!  So now when visiting the MFA I like to take my camera so I can quickly capture things that inspire and delight me, and I wanted to share a few of my discoveries.


© 2011 Gatsby Nouvel

Renoir’s Dance at the Bougival is one of my favorite paintings at the MFA.  I love the color and the movement of this piece, the flow of the woman’s skirt, and the flutter of the ribbons on her hat.  It’s almost like a candid photograph.  When taking portraits of individuals or couples, I try to also incorporate movement.  I feel more candid pictures better capture the essence of a person.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I think Renoir may have influenced this particular shot. What do you think?


One of Monet’s classic water lilies.  I loved the texture of the paint, which made me wonder, could I create the illusion of texture in a photograph?  Turns out you can!  By using layers and masking in post production, I’ve been able to add depth and textures to photos.

This was taken on a cold day in early March. Texture added a rugged grittiness that seemed to suit this deserted Nantucket pier.

Softness & Light:

Monet strikes again!  Hey, there’s a reason why I’m looking forward to visiting the Impressionist galleries in Paris, you know!  

I love the soft, misty quality of this painting.  It’s light and serene, and the softness alludes to the landscape without giving away every detail.  Thanks to Monet, I stopped being afraid of soft focus, and started to embrace it.

Martha's Vineyard. I chose a soft focus because I wanted the photo to have a dream-like quality. Standing on the cliffs that day, it felt so perfect it was almost surreal.

Flights of Whimsey: 

The inspiration here is not deep or earth-shattering.  I just really liked this woman’s hat!  Hats are awesome, and I really think they need to come back into vogue! Sometimes something needs to be nothing more than what it is to bring you joy.

So, dear blog readers, I’m interested to hear, is there anything particular that inspires you and helps get your creative juices flowing?


From the Pens of Poets…

I have loved books and reading all my life.  I have fond memories of  Christmases spent curled up in the corner of the living room, devouring the new books I’d received.  In fact, I remember one Christmas Mom telling me to slow down and savor them so I would still have something new to read come New Year’s.

Recently I have begun collecting old and rare books–not really for investment purposes, simply because they make me happy.  My newest acquisition is the complete five volume set of Les Miserables, published in English by Little Brown in 1887.  I’m so proud of them that they currently hold the place of honor in the center of my mantle, alongside my copies of Hamlet, Twelfth Night, and Longfellow’s collection of poetry.





















While taking pictures of these old books the other night (because, indeed, I am that much of a nerd), I got to thinking about the relationship between photography and poetry: how each gives an impression, but leaves the reader or viewer to fill in the blanks and create their own interpretation.  This quote says it very well:

“The still photograph is to moving pictures what poetry is to prose – less comprehensive perhaps, less literal even, yet somehow capable of expressing a deeper truth.”       -Anonymous 

With this in mind, I began going through my archives, and favorite lines of poetry began to play in my head.  So for tonight’s blog, I thought I’d share a few of my impressions with you.

"I will arise and go now, and go to Inisfree, And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made; Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee, And live alone in the bee-loud glade." -W.B. Yeats

"O Ocean vast! We heard thy song with wonder, Whilst waves marked time." -Victor Hugo

"Out of the bosom of the Air, out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare, over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent & Soft & Slow descends the snow." -Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

"And at the closing of the day she loosed the chain and down she lay; the broad stream bore her far away, The Lady of Shalott." -Lord Alfred Tennyson

So, there you have it.  Just a few snippets into my imagination.  As we come on upon fall, my favorite season of the year, I get in the mood to read poetry and literature, light a fire (’cause my new apartment actually has a real fireplace!), and let the words and imagery spark my imagination, give me new ideas, or revise ideas that have already formed.  Plus, it’s just a good excuse to get into my pajamas and drink hot cider!   🙂

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