Monday 21 September 2015

The Green Fingers of Monsieur Monet by Giancarlo Ascai and Pia Valentinis (Royal Academy of Arts Publishing)

How do you get the next generation of prospective art fanatics well and truly hooked? With glorious books like this - step inside the colourful world of Monsieur Monet!
One of the questions Charlotte often asks me is "how do you become an artist?" (which isn't a question I'm in any way qualified to answer!)

Certainly it helps to have access to brilliant children's books that show the origins of some of the most famous and celebrated works of art in the world, and the artists who produced them.

Monet's glowing and ethereal paintings are stunning to look at, but what of the man himself? What were Monet's main sources of inspiration and what made this rather dapper chap want to paint the things he painted?

In "The Green Fingers of Monsieur Monet" we pick up the artist's trail just as he and his family have moved to a new residence in Giverny (in Northern France) - a house with an extensive garden ready to be moulded into a stunning artist's escape under the supervision of Monet himself.

Monet was as keen and precise about his gardening as he was about his painting, with his eye for colour demanding an all-year-round spectacle of amazing flowering displays in his new garden. Designers and gardeners set to work to bring Monet's vision to life - so ensuring that Monet's garden was a constant source of inspiration as the seasons and the light changed as time marched on.

Later, Monet's gardeners were instructed to add a pond - and Monet would often sit in a boat with his paints and canvases, painting the scenes around him (a pretty neat trick considering how difficult it must've been to sit still in a boat for hour after hour!)

In this book, beautiful and colourful scenes bring Monet's story to life and also detail some of the historical background of the time Monet lived in, as the "Belle Epoque" was coming to an end and the threat of the 1st World War loomed over Europe.

Most interesting of all (to me at least) was the description of Monet's devotion to light and tone, often painting the same scene over and over again in different light and at different times of the year to see how each scene changed and evolved.

We've seen many, many brilliant books designed to interest children in the arts and artists and this is an absolutely stunning example of the right way to do it (as you'd expect from the Royal Academy of Arts!)

Charlotte's favourite bit: Monet's rather natty dress sense. Always a smartly dressed chap was Monet!

Daddy's favourite bit: A brilliant little fact-filled book jammed with lots of inspirational information on Monet's life and times, and the processes and passions that drove him to become one of the world's most celebrated artists.

(Kindly sent to us for review by Royal Academy of Arts Publishing)

"The Green Fingers of Monsieur Monet"

Written by Giancarlo Ascai

Illustrated by Pia Valentinis

Published by Royal Academy of Arts Publishing

Release Date (Hardback): 14th September 2015