Walking through The Art Institute of Chicago last year for the first time, I repeated in my head a description for Monet’s work: “painter of light.” It couldn’t have been a better description. It wasn’t the first time I had seen his work in person, but it was the first time that it really impacted me. When I rounded the corner into the impressionist’s collection, the room seemed to glow; the art seemed to sparkle. I had to stop for a moment and take it all in.
The paintings of hay bails in different light by Monet caught my eye especially. I loved seeing the warms and cools reflect against each other, and I loved his confidence apparent throughout the entire piece. So often I feel that “messy” or “careless” is mistaken for “confidence” in art, but it was unmistakable in Monet’s work that every stroke of color was placed thoughtfully.
Fast forward to around a month ago. I was working with a student on a landscape when it hit me that her strokes, to me, were reminiscent of Monet’s. I told her this, and we decide to study Monet for the next few lessons and recreate his painting of blossoming trees.
We dove head first into learning more and more about Monet’s approach so we could accurately move around his paintings and analyze his technique. One thing in particular that we did was mimic his color palette, almost exactly. Monet said: “I use flake white, cadmium yellow, vermilion, deep madder, cobalt blue, emerald green, and that’s all.”
We used permanent rose and/or alizarin crimson in place of vermillion, and titanium white in place of flake white, and it didn’t effect our output greatly. Additionally, upon further research, I learned of a few other colors Monet would’ve used such as cobalt violet; I chose to use king’s blue in place of cobalt violet because, although it isn’t extremely similar, I always have king’s blue on hand in my studio and felt that it would be a good purple-ish substitute.
Essentially, we created a palette full of color inspired by what Monet used. “His” palette quickly became very exciting to work with; it is a simple palette, and the colors work together with ease beautifully. With his palette it is easy to use the basic techniques of color mixing and achieve gorgeous results. I love the range of pastel-like colors to saturated, vibrant colors. Although not many reds are seen in Monet’s work, I found that I mixed in reds more than I expected to mute greens (green and red are complementary colors, and when complements are mixed together, they create muted color in many shades).
Color aside, I chose to lengthen my strokes more than Monet maybe would’ve, but I’ve already fallen in love with the idea of furthering true impressionism in my work like you see in the piece above. All in all, I am enjoying this palette immensely, and I think it’s here to stay!
Below you will find a list of my Monet-Inspired Palette colors with corresponding links. If you paint with this palette, or your own slightly-modified version of it, please share an image of your painting and tag me in the post–I’d love to see your work!