Imagine something simple, unexpected, and new which leaves you with a calm, quiet, and warm feeling. It can come at any time, any place, anywhere. Those moments appear when I close a book, I have thoroughly enjoyed, or a biography which has taught me some interesting lesson of history, or a novel with some insight into human nature.
They also arrive in museums and art galleries. I have long loved the Impressionists from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. I remember my first visit to The Art Institute of Chicago renowned for its collection, and for me, especially, its collection of Monet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas, Cassatt, Prendergast, among others.
When I entered, I immediately went to the Monet collection of “Haystacks.” He painted twenty-five beginning after the harvest at the end of summer of 1890 and continued through the following spring. The master painted at different times of day, in different weather, and from different angles.
I had seen many of these canvases in several of the books on Monet in my collection; however, I was not prepared for the overwhelming experience that day in Chicago. I turned a corner and entered a gallery with five of the paintings. I was so overwhelmed, tears began streaming down my cheeks. Fortunately, a seat opposite the canvases in an un-crowded gallery allowed me an unobstructed seat to collapse and take them all into my memory.
I don’t know how long I sat there, looking from one to another and back again. Each glance showed me the true power of the Impressionists – the use of light, color, and texture. A group entered the room with some noisy patrons and a guide. I did not want that distraction to ruin the moment, so, I stood up to leave. When I did, I experienced a profound moment of peace, warmth, and happiness. I stayed for a moment longer for a last look. And I turned and walked away.
Here are three example: Evening, Morning, and Snow: