First impressions

Namine and I started reading a new book last night. This one is for school, and since it’s a little too advanced for her reading level, I’m reading it to her. It’s about Claude Monet.

I was in grade school when I first learned about Monet and impressionism in general. Being colorblind, most art that utilizes color confounds me. But impressionism, contrary to most art of Monet’s day, wasn’t about what a thing was — it was about how you perceived the thing. Your impression of it. It didn’t matter that I couldn’t see the “right” colors. (Not that any of that new-found appreciation meant I could paint, of course.)

But I digress. This book we’re reading is about 50 pages long, and we got more than halfway through. Namine loves art, especially paintings, and she seemed to enjoy the book. It showed the paintings from a normal viewing distance and extremely close up, demonstrating how impressionist paintings were not precise, as Monet’s contemporaries’ paintings were, but rather an approximation, allowing your own eyes to fill in the details.

Namine’s book talked about capturing moments, brief flashes of time that disappeared almost as quickly as they came. The look on Namine’s face told me that she didn’t quite get it, so I pointed to one of the paintings, a sunset on the water. “What color is water?” I asked.


“Okay. Look at the water here. What other colors do you see?”

Namine pointed to the sun’s reflection on the water. “Yellow.”

I nodded. “Is water yellow?”


“Then why did Monet paint yellow on the water, if the water isn’t yellow?”

“Because the sun is shining on the water.”

“You’re right. And that is what this kind of painting, impressionism, is about: capturing that moment of the sun shining on the water. Getting those flashes of light and color before they’re gone.”

“Oh, okay. I get it now, Daddy.”

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