Monet on an Overcast Day

I keep an “Inspirations” folder on my computer desktop. As I’m browsing photo reference sites and come across landscape scenes I’d like to paint, I tuck them away in the folder. Occasionally I add inspirations from famous artists, like this lovely painting by Claude Monet:

Branch of the Seine Near Giverny — Claude Monet

I have no pretentions of copying a master’s work such as this, yet I do want to draw inspiration from artists like Monet. Just as I did last year with my “tonalist landscape project” throughout the month of December, I took this painting, studied it a bit, and then created my own version.

I’m learning about light and shadow now, and this particular painting exercise was an attempt to paint the sort of “diffused light” that occurs on an overcast day. This sort of light provides for a fairly narrow range of values. There are not sharp, harsh lights and shadows, but an overallย softness for lack of a better word.

Light on an overcast day tends to be cooler — at least, that’s how we perceive it — so I worked primarily with cool blues and greens, then added a bit of warmth in the areas that do appear slightly shadowed. Here is my painting:

Monet on an Overcast Day

As I was painting, I believed my composition was good. I was aware that the trees and bushes on the right weren’t the same size and shape as those in Monet’s landscape, but I liked what I saw — until later when I stepped back and realized that the elements are a bit out of balance.

My weakest area — quite literally — is in painting reflections. I originally had them much darker, but then “tweaked” the painting to lighten them.

On a positive note, I do think I captured the sense of an overcast day. At the very least, I learned the qualities present in diffused lighting, and hopefully I’ll remember those important points:

  • A narrow range of values
  • Soft lights and shadows
  • Cool light
  • Warm shadows

I did enjoy taking inspiration from Monet and then painting the scene in my own personal style.


  1. I really like the way you have your trees. More Constable than Monet in colour and perhaps a little more realistic than the vibrancy Monet has gone for. I love trying to paint reflections in water. Itโ€™s not easy but I have made some progress by extending the trees down as if the water wasnโ€™t there initially, making them a little more haphazard in downward brush strokes. Then adding reflected light horizontally to turn them into water. Itโ€™s great fun trying. And thanks for following my blog too.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks. I always feel my reflections get too dark and too distracting, so I’ll keep working on them. I appreciate the tips! I’m glad I found your blog. I try to browse around a bit each morning looking for blogs of interest. I’m sure I’ll enjoy your posts.

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  2. Beautiful painting ๐Ÿ™‚ ! It’s actually nice to realize that one mustn’t copy an already created artwork. I believe, it’s cheating in a way, the colours have already been made, just makes the work easier, almost like spoon feeding, all you have to do is mix colours till you get what you see in the reference. It’s a completely different process of learning when you try to get what your eye sees in nature to the paper or try to get what’s on your mind on paper, it involves minimalisation, prioritization, etc. It’s just not the same when you’re copying, you can’t call the painting your own. However, taking inspiration is really important for learning, I really appreciate the method you undertook. And, I believe, the result is extremely wonderful! The weather aspect is very nice and prominent ๐Ÿ™‚ . As for the reflections, try going wrong once ๐Ÿ˜‰ (on a small scale of course) . After all, we learn more from self experimenting, more as well as new things… Awesome painting, beautifully made! ๐Ÿ˜€

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    1. Thanks. I’m really looking forward to exploring weather more and more in my paintings now. Weather plays a significant role in our lives, in our moods, in our thoughts and feelings. I want to be able to bring all those emotions into my landscape art.

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  3. Monet was a magician, of course, so drawing inspiration from his work makes sense to me.
    As a writer I try to learn from Steinbeck, Kafka, Hesse, etc, but I’d never try to copy them.
    That way lies madness!

    Be inspired, but be yourself, I suggest.
    And thank you for following Sound Bite Fiction.

    Liked by 3 people

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