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A Matter of Ponding Innovation

Feb 22, 2019

On a recent trip to Manhattan, my meetings ended early, and I headed over to MoMa. The photo above is my attempt to capture the sense of scale from Claude Monet’s “Water Lilies” painting. My photo is a fragment from one of the three large panels of the piece. The painting is so large that it has a gallery all to itself. Even for this boy from West Texas – that’s a BIG painting.

What a great example of “AMPLIUS!” Michelangelo wrote that one word across Raphael’s work… AMPLIUS” — make larger — Raphael’s work was too constrained — too confined — make it GREATER — LARGER!  From the size of this Water Lilies piece, Monet seems to have heard Michelangelo too!

According to the plaque in the gallery, Monet’s aim was to supply “the illusion of an endless whole, water without horizon or bank.”

Standing there sharing the room with at least 75 feet of color filled canvas, I began to wonder:

“How did he manage to create something so big and so wonderful?”

He needed a lot of canvas. He needed a lot of paint. He needed a space to put all that paint on all that canvas!

Most of all — he needed a pond full of water lilies to inspire him.

Lastly, he needed to be himself – that man who helps the rest of us see, “the endless whole – water without horizon or bank” in the lilies in the ponds outside our own studios.

I think there is a lesson in there for each of us.

  1. Gather your materials.
  2. Make some space to bring it all together.
  3. Draw deeply from the lilies and the ponds — from all that inspires you.
  4. Explore to find that endless whole — seek out your own place without horizon or bank.

That’s usually where the best ideas are hiding anyway… just waiting to be found… and make their way into your studio.

There’s more lilies and lots more pond on the way — be sure to let me know what inspires you.

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Here’s to you and all the ponds that inspire you to find your AMPLIUS!

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