In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Serenity.”
This is a different sort of Post – it is one in which I’m responding to the weekly photo challenge set up by WordPress. This week the topic is Serenity so here are a few images that to me represent that scarce emotion in today’s world, serenity.
The first one, below, may not look like everyone’s idea of Serenity, but this Cretan man had an attitude to life that was calm and benign. He was one of the happiest people I’d ever met: even his donkey seemed happy in the heat of the midday sun. It was a harsh life up there in the mountains but Andreas told me he had everything in life he needed, his olive trees, a few animals, a family in good health and all living nearby, and most of all, he said, he lived on Crete.
What more can I say?
Next photograph is very different. I did an Art Tour once in France where we stopped at various place where some of the painters known as The Impressionists had painted: their pictures were hung in nearby galleries or galleries of some note further away. Rouen I remember very well, as it was one of the places where it rained incessantly during our visit, but luckily, Claude Monet had painted more than 30 pictures of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral (many in the rain) so we were able to see it just as the artist had seen it.
When the group of painters who came to be referred to as The Impressionists evolved their style of painting from chocolate-box interiors to naturalistic outdoor scenes, they were helped by two mid-19th century inventions. One was pre-mixed paints in tubes (akin to today’s toothpaste tubes), and the other was the new vibrant hues like chromium yellow and French ultramarine that freed them from the chore of grinding up lapus lazuli and mixing dry pigment in linseed oil to make colour.
What it also gave them was a complete change of perspective. With these inventions they could now paint “en plein air” (outdoors), capturing the momentary and transient aspects of light and the ever changing colours of the clouds and using ordinary subject matter.
Alfred Sisley (October 30, 1839 – January 29, 1899) was an English Impressionist landscape painter who was born and spent most of his life in France. A very disciplined painter, Sisley is recognized as perhaps the most consistent of the Impressionists. He never deviated into figure painting or thought of finding another form in which to express himself. The Impressionist movement fulfilled his artistic needs.
Below is a photograph I took of a scene he painted (I think his painting hangs in the Gallery at Honfleur). To me it is serenity itself. I photographed it on a day when the Normandy sun was shining, dragonflies were chasing each other over the Seine, the village of Bouille was quiet as the people rested after lunch and I captured the scene on camera as I remembered it from the painting.