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I’d been looking forward to going to the art museum in Santa Barbara on Saturday afternoon, excited really. But I was unprepared for what I was going to experience.

We were able to get there by around 1 pm, leaving me nearly four hours before closing time. I smiled and told my husband that I’d call him when I was done, or it closed, whichever came first. :o) After I bade farewell to my fellows, I stepped into a magical world.

I followed the front desk attendant’s directions for finding the elevator, travelled to the middle level, and entered the first gallery. Near the door there was a whimsical painting by Marc Chagall, entitled “Blue Angel,” a still life of a vase of roses, and then I was stopped in my tracks.

There, in front of me, was an original oil painting by Vincent Van Gogh. Lilacs.

The picture went a little blurry for a few moments. I was in awe of this opportunity to be so close to this work of art. I just stood there, gazing at it, enthralled, sensing his energy still being held in, radiating from, the layers of pigment, the recorded motions of his brush strokes, some areas with little texture, others thick with paint.


Vincent Van Gogh: Lilacs

Along the next wall, I found two pieces by Edgar Degas. Three Dancers with Yellow Skirts (oil on canvas — set in a glassed frame) and a sketch, Laundress Carrying Linen (pastel).

Degas, too. Wow.

Edgar Degas: Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts

Edgar Degas: Three Dancers in Yellow Skirts

I floated up the few stairs to see the gallery with the museum’s permanent collection. In there I found three, THREE, original oils by Claude Monet, now my favourite paintings of his. :o)

Huge Wow. Like I’d been given a most desired gift — which I had.

After quite a while, I finally peeled myself away from that gallery and wandered down through halls and up stairways to view the other works of art on exhibit. I came back again before going down to the gift shop to see if I might find something special to remind me of my afternoon.

One of the museum staff, who I had asked if it was okay to take photos of the placards beside the paintings that were part of the special exhibit (there were signs stating that it was not okay to take pics of the paintings themselves), got my attention to tell me it was okay to make photos of the permanent collection, (yay!) so I spent a fair amount of time hovering in front of the Monets.

Here are the three paintings they have on exhibit:

Claude Monet: Charing Cross Bridge (1899) Oil on canvas

Claude Monet: Waterloo Bridge (1900) Oil on canvas

The title card next to Waterloo Bridge included some information about Monet and this work :

“Monet often selected motifs that allowed him to capture mingled atmospheric effects, both natural and man-made. This is one of some twenty canvases he painted in his room at the Savoy Hotel in London, looking downstream along the Thames. In this apparitional canvas, factory smoke trails against an early morning sky made opalescent by the London fog. The increasing abstraction of paintings Monet’s late work seems to anticipate the expressive, highly gestural canvases of later artists, such as Jackson Pollock (American, 1912-1956)”

A detail image from the painting:

Monet - Waterloo Bridge detail-640

Claude Monet : Villas in Bordighera (1884) Oil on canvas

The card for the Villas in Bordighera, included this story about Monet:

“The 1880s were a decade of transition for Monet, both personally and professionally. In 1883, Monet began a life-long partnership with Alice Hoschedé, the wife of one of his patrons, Ernest Hoschedé, who had abandoned his family following his bankruptcy several years earlier. The next year, Monet’s letters to Alice during this trip reveal his single-minded obsession with faithfully recording his visual sensations while painting outdoors and his constant frustration with his inability to capture quickly enough the explosion of color revealed by the brilliant but ever-changing Mediterranean light.”

A close-up of one part of Villas in Bordighera:

Monet -Villas in Bordighera detail-640

In the gift shop I found a lovely book about another one of my favourite artists, Georgia O’Keefe, an oversized postcard of Degas’ Three Dancers with Yellow Skirts that I can put up on my bulletin board by my art table, and a funny pencil crayon with a marbled lead — a mixture of 3 colours. Fun.

While I was wandering around in the shop, I spoke to my husband and found out that they had just arrived at Children’s World. So, I had at least another half an hour before they’d be ready to come pick me up. I debated about stepping out onto State Street, do a little window shopping, but I decided to head back to gaze at Mr. Van Gogh’s lilacs, and Mr. Degas’ dancers until the museum closed.

It was very quiet by that time, just me and one of the museum staff. I sat on the bench close to the paintings, absorbing the beauty, and thinking about what an amazing time I had had.

I pulled my pocket-sized spiral notebook out of my bag and began composing this haiku in an attempt to capture my feelings about the afternoon . . .

Brush strokes by the hands
of my heroes, caress my
eyes and sate my soul.
~ sld

I’ll close with a quote from Monet that sums up my life’s existence perfectly:

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things. It’s enough to drive one mad. I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.”
~ Claude Monet

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Image sources:

Van Gogh’s Lilacs: Pinterest

Degas’ Three Dancers with Yellow Skirts: Wikipedia

6 thoughts on “Wow

  1. As a devout lover of the arts, I know precisely how it feels to be transported by a work of art, Sandy. There are paintings that I have stood before and wept. Sooo glad that you got to have this experience! It fills one’s soul….


  2. I remember going to the Chicago Institute of Art when I was visiting and being transfixed by Seurat’s Sunday on the Isle of Le Grand Jatte (sp?). (Being a Sondheim fan as well, it was sort of a double transfixation, I suppose) Those moments leave permanent blessings in our soul. Thanks for sharing yours.
    Kelley @ thepathuntangled


    • That’s one of my favourite paintings as well. I hadn’t heard of Steven Sondheim before, so I did a little search and found some videos. Marvelous stuff!


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