Sun Kissed Beauty                                    By Amanda Laflamme 

This gallery will explore representations of nature through various paintings created by Claude Monet, Georgia O'Keeffe, and Albert Bierstadt. This gallery will also examine the importance of color in artwork. How color is used, what it means or represents, and how it makes the viewer feel will all be discussed. In some cases texture may also be mentioned to show how different styles can be used to represent the same type of imagery.


This painting is created by the French artist, Claude Monet. This scene is a sunset scene on the beach. The main focus is large rocks that are surrounded by the ocean. A viewer might link this to a tide coming in. Monet used warm pastel colors to represent the setting sun. Warm colors such as red, orange and yellow can make he viewer feel warmer or happier. These colors are contrasted nicely by the cool dark blues and browns found in the foreground. These colors are used to represent the water and shadows rolling in.These colors add a colder sensation when viewing the painting and give a sense of calmness and serenity. Upon closer examination the viewer can also see Monet's famous textures. The texture is especially apparent in the water and rocks. The textures make the painting look rougher and more lifelike.
Although the focus of this gallery is color, often the absence of color can portray just as strong of a message. This painting was created by Georgia O'Keeffe. Not only is this rose white instead of the more common red color, but the perspective is very different than normal. This extreme close up of the rose makes this painting interesting to look at, because it becomes almost unrecognizable as a flower. This painting has a much flatter texture than the previous painting. This could be attributed to the fact that it is a close up, or because roses have a much more delicate texture to them. The lack of color allows the viewer to have a eerie sense of wonder when looking at the rose. White can also symbolize cleanliness or innocence, much like a flower might symbolize. The painting does not lack depth however because of the use of gray values.
This painting was created by Albert Bierstadt. This painting illustrates what it might be like to move out west when America was still being explored and settled into. The wagons, animals, and people traveling into the sunset solidify that this painting focuses on a journey. The sun is set low in the sky and seems to blanket the entire scene in a warm glow. The uses of yellows, oranges and reds make the journey seem more exciting and inviting. Cool colors can only be seen in limited quantities in the plant life and the few bits of night sky that are beginning to replace the sunset. By having the cool colors in the foreground the painting seems to be guiding the viewer towards the journey and toward the sunlight. This can be metaphoric by showing that the travelers are going towards a brighter, new beginning and away from the darkness they are escaping. This is how color can help tell a story.
This painting was created by Monet in the late 1800s. This painting focuses on a fair, young woman sitting in the grass on a sunny Spring day. She is reading a book in the shade of a tree. The viewer is able to gather what time of year it is by the color of the plant life and by the flowers dotting the grass. Had the grass been darker it may appear to be summer. If it were browning it would better represent fall. The artists also choose to capture a Spring characteristic by using white and pink in the dress. These colors often symbolize cleanliness, renewal, and youth. This mirrors what Spring is to the environment. This painting also beautifully expresses the sunlight peeking through the tree limbs and breaks between leaves. This light break adds some depth to the painting by showing dimension above the subject without blatantly showing the sun and sky. This is just another way color can be used to express an idea.
This painting is a scene of mesas and mountains. The scene has a more abstract feel to it than previously discussed pieces. The painting is very balanced between warm and cool colors. Although this painting may not possess as much detail and intricate brush work, this painting still gives you a sense of realism and emotion.The painting allows you to feel happy and excited with the fiery reds in the foreground, but also holds a sense of peacefulness with the blue mountains and green grass. This painting is also interesting to view since it leaves a bit to the imagination and let's some of the image come to life based on the viewer's perspective. The painting is also different than previous ones we have viewed because the use of color does not mimic what you would normally see out in nature. Her use of color is very saturated and exaggerated. This could be to make the viewer more excited and happy when the viewing the artwork.
This painting was created by Albert Bierstadt in the late 1800s. The painting illustrates a sunrise over a small body of water wedged between mountains and hills. This painting seems to be taking place in a valley. It is a little hard to tell what time of year it is, but the viewer is able to feel the warmth from the sunlight and conclude that it is probably spring or summer. If the painting had been made up of darker colors the painting would not look like a sunrise. It might also make the painting look like a different time of year. The small bits of cool colors help keep the focus on the focal points. It also helps add some variation and realism to the painting.
This painting is another Monet piece. This artwork showcases a winter day. Fresh snow blankets the ground. There is a home in the distance with trees stretching the length of the canvas. A single bird is perched on a small wooden structure. Much like the rose painting discussed earlier, this painting captured a mood and feeling using very limited amounts of color. By using variations of white the artist was able to create a scene that is very familiar. The viewer is able to feel the coldness of the painting by looking at it. If the colors were not a realistic color, the snow might not even be recognized as snow. Monet was able to add variation to the values by warming up some sections to make it seem like it is being shined on by the sun. This adds realism to the artwork as well as mood change. With the amount of sun and shadows showing it is easy to see that it is midday and sunny. Without the color tone changes and variations this would not be easy to detect.
This painting is part of Albert Bierstadt's collection. This painting's main focal point is the sky. Painted with rich blues and purples the eye is drawn to it the most. The painting also features a field with some trees and a couple of horses. The horses look very minuscule in comparison to the clouds and sky above. This also helps the viewer distinguish what to spend more time looking at. This painting is made up of almost all cool colors. The sky mimics what you might see after a strong summer storm. Since the colors are mainly in the cooler tones the viewer will be more at ease when viewing this artwork. This is much like the calm before and after a storm. Again, this is how color choices and schemes can be used to tell a story behind what is seen.
This painting is part of Monet's water lily collection. The painting may seem very monochromatic in the blue and green color palettes, but with further inspection the viewer can pick out some warmer earth tones mixed in as well. This painting perfectly exhibits how color can set the mood or aura of a scene. The blue and green tones help the viewer feel the tranquil moment by the water lily pool. These colors are part of the cool color family, but are still bright and vibrant. This keeps the mood relaxed and joyful. If the tones were too dark they may give the viewer an unsettling and mysterious feeling instead. The earth tones in this painting keep this painting natural and realistic. The rustic tones in the water show the dirt beneath the calm, clear water. Since this is a classic Monet painting, the textured brush strokes are also very apparent. This texture adds life to some areas of the painting that may normally feel flat. By adding texture into the trees, leaves, and wooden bridge, the viewer can almost feel the scene creating a sensory connection to the piece of art.
This painting was made by Albert Bierstadt. It has a similar theme to a previously discussed Bierstadt piece. This painting also takes place in a valley with a little bit of vegetation. One of the differences that sets this painting apart from that previous painting is the vibrance of colors and the use of color. In the previous painting the colors were very bright and true. This helped set the scene for being a warmer season and earlier in the day. With this painting the viewer may feel like the warmth is beginning to leave the painting and like night is setting in. The artist was able to capture the last moments of daylight and reproduce the moments when the shadows begin to set in. By using a slightly different color palette the artist was able to completely change the mood, time of day, and focal point in this piece.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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