I often wonder if life inspires art or if art inspires life. I’m sure it’s a little of both.
Claude Monet, the French Impressionist, is one of my favorite artists. A botanist’s dream, Monet was inspired by his surroundings and often painted elements in nature. How could such beautiful art come from such simple things, like water lilies, meadows, and bridges?
In graduate school, when I had barely enough money to buy food let alone decorate my apartment, I purchased a $5 poster of Monet’s Water Lilies painting. That poster hung on my wall for years. It was a reminder that no matter how much money I had (or didn’t have), art didn’t have to be expensive, but rather could be found anywhere and everywhere around us.
The poster has since been laid to rest in poster heaven, and, after all these years, I seem to have forgotten about it. Until now. While in Washington, DC, this week, I took advantage of the many free museums that our nation’s capital has to offer. I spent time viewing the art museums, galleries, and sculptures. Seeing and just being among the art rekindled my affection for it and, once again, reminded me how inspiring and simple art can be.
While walking from one museum to another, I stopped in a little alcove area between the buildings – it was a butterfly garden. Because it was raining slightly, there were no butterflies to be seen. But what I did see was a peaceful and near perfect pond complete with water lilies. Seeing the water lilies took me back to my college apartment and my poster. Just as art can inspire our lives, life and the things we experience in it can inspire us to create art. Inspired by the moment and Claude Monet himself, I took a photo – one perfect photo – of the pond and water lilies. The photo is not a Monet – it’s not even a painting, but it is my simple work of art, costing no more than 5 minutes of my time.