Monet said that “It’s on the strength of observation and reflection that one finds a way, so we must dig and delve unceasingly.”
This past weekend I was fortunate enough to visit the Monet exhibit in Denver. It was not the first time I had the privilege to see one of the artist’s exhibits. Fifteen years ago, on a trip to the D’Orsay museum in Paris I was so taken with Monet that I hung one of his infamous water lilies in my bedroom for nearly a decade. There was something about the way he seemed to convey a distance from his subject, like when your eyes are partly closed and seeing with a soft gaze. Sadly, my knowledge of him is weak though I find myself wanting to learn more. Even after new insights gained, I can barely scratch the surface of the depth that defines this artist.
What I didn’t know before seeing the Denver exhibit, was that Monet wanted to paint water truthfully and so he spent his life being the observer of the way water is constantly changing. Often, he took one subject, and explored the truth from its many perspectives. Reflecting on water scenes that are smooth and calm in one painting, but also wild and angry in another became his practice for learning the truth’s full spectrum.
Monet teaches that we cannot begin to approach the truth without observing both the sun kissed and dark cloud view.
Monet’s message reminded me of the gift that exists in observation and reflection. Examining ourselves and the world with discernment and knowing there is always more to the truth we see at first glance. The full truth is multi-faceted, encompassing the impact of atmosphere, season, distance, geography, and all who came before, and after. With curiosity and a willingness to explore, it is possible to deepen awareness. The gift offered, should you choose to accept it, requires being present to one’s limited view of reality while embracing the unknown possibilities.
The last two decades of Monet’s life he focused on the waterlilies in his own garden. Water lilies are said to adapt in a difficult habitat. The elegant leaves and flowers struggle to the water’s surface, growing out of the muck that is at the bottom of the pond. A perfect metaphor for rising into the light. Monet continued to search for deeper meaning through multi-faceted perspectives by painting over 250 works of art in the waterlily series, and all in his own backyard.
The gift that comes from observation, reflection, curiosity, and open-mindedness opens the door to creating bigger, bolder, more colorful strokes. This is the gift that keeps on giving, and one that I hope you all receive. And it’s available to you in your own backyard.
Deb Siverson is an author and president of Xponents, Inc. Her book, “The Cycle of Transformation: Igniting Organizational Change through the Leader Coach”, encourages transparent and emotionally-connected conversations at work. Her company’s focus is to bring out the best in people by recognizing and aligning unique talent, values, and purpose.