Monet’s Garden, Giverny: My New Happy Place!

By September 17, 2015Uncategorized

I’m in France, and had the most amazing day yesterday!  I have to tell you about it…

It began with a quick stop in the town of Giverny at Hotel Baudy.  This is an old place that has welcomed many famous artists over the years…Renoir, Cezanne, Pissaro to name a few.  They came here following their friend and fellow artist, Claude Monet.  The studio out back is picturesque and worth a look. Some of those artists painted in this studio.   Isn’t it adorable?  Just crying out to be turned into a painting!

Studio Stairs at Hotel Baudy Giverny

Studio Stairs at Hotel Baudy Giverny

Next I went to Monet’s home and Gardens just down the street.  The lines were long, but it was worth every minute. I requested to stay after hours as an artist, and was informed that after 5:30 PM or so, the gardens begin to close and I should come back at that hour. I decided to go another route.  I went early and never left!


When I arrive somewhere new, I like to run around and take lots of photos, getting the lay of the land.   It helps me know where my favorite places are and decide on what spots actually move me.  Once I feel visually drawn to a location, then that is where I sit and paint.  So my first stop was the water garden.  Of course, this spot is iconic.  Monet painted it over and over.  There were so many people there that I decided to draw rather than paint.  I found a comfortable seat on the bench near the bridge in the photo below. That’s where I spent my afternoon…

I pulled out a new brand of paper that’s caught my attention.  It’s called Terraskin.  It’s smooth (like yupo). It’s also environmentally friendly (biodegradable, made from a very sustainable materials, no trees, and no water is used in it’s production).  It’s also naturally white in color without the need for chemical bleaching.  I love the idea of using environmentally friendly materials, especially when they perform well.

I did one drawing, and liked it so much, that I decided to do another one looking in the other direction.  I used a technique for drawing shapes that is a really fun way to draw.  My friend Karen Knutson showed me this method, and it makes for really cool drawings.  Here are the two sketches I did while sitting there.

Monet's Japanese BridgeMonet’s Japanese Bridge.  Sketch with ink on Terraskin paper

Monet's garden trellis

Monet’s garden trellis using ink on Terraskin paper

When I finished the drawings, it was apparent that the crowds were gone. It was finally time to get out my paints, and be able to use them without getting in anyone’s way.  I moved back toward the house and into the garden nearby.  This was my view.  Talk about color!


After spending a bit of time sitting right there on site I did the painting below.  Since time was short, I decided to go for it without any drawing.  I forged ahead with watercolor paint and color trying to capture my impression of the moment.  Inspired by one of the founding fathers of impressionism, it just seemed the right thing to do.  Such fun!

The painting is still wet on the paper (and as I tilt it upright you can see the red running down along the right edge).  It’s this idyllic setting that I’m trying to capture…Monet’s garden after hours.

I can’t describe the thrill of painting so intimately in the garden! Perhaps you can see it in my face here.   It felt like I was alone for a couple of hours with the garden and the ghost of Monet.  It was romantic to say the least.  As it turned out, there was one other artist who stayed to paint.  As we were both leaving, she found me and took this photo.  We were both giddy with excitement at the experience.  After closing down the garden, we had to figure out how to to actually get out.  The front gates were locked, and we were to exit through the garage door. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds.  After pushing all kinds of buttons and trying not to panic, we finally opened the locked door and took our leave.  I’m left with a smile as I think about it. The memory will truly last for a lifetime.  Someday I hope to bring my students and friends here for a similar experience.

Can you tell how happy I am???

Can you tell how happy I am???

Monet spent the latter years of his life devoting much of his painting to his water garden and his lily series.   If you’re interested in knowing a bit more about Monet’s water lily paintings, you might enjoy reading this blog:

15 Things you might not know about Monet’s “Water Lilies”

At this point, I’m off to explore the Cathedral at Chartres and the Loire Valley. Thanks to those of you who have checked in with me, I appreciate hearing from you so very much.  Your messages and comments help me feel like I have company on the road.  Stay in touch and stay tuned y’all!

Author Rebecca Zdybel

Artist, Instructor, Art-Travel Instructor - Spread Light, Share Love, DO Art! Rebecca Z Artist (Rebecca Zdybel) is an artist and instructor in Myrtle Beach, SC. She blogs and teaches locally and internationally. Sign up for her blog, classes, workshops, art travel tours, or see her work at

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • sally anne Kaiser says:

    Of course you would know I would have to reply. One of the most exciting experiences I ever had. I so loved it and I wasn’t painting then. How exciting you got to stay and paint. Would love to go back one day.

  • Pat Merrell says:

    Ohhh Rebecca, I am so jealous I can hardly move. You have had the most glorious of days. I have spent a couple of days there.. with nightmare stories of getting there but it was all worth it. Was the Heracleum – Giant Hogweed – looks like Queen Ann’s lace on steroids… in bloom still? probably too late. I can see you two locked into the garage. Can you believe they all went off and left you in the place alone??? You could have spent the night!!

    I hope you had some time in the house .. know it would have been crowded.. but I can still imagine the kitchen and what it must have been like with the family there. The colors… and then I always think of what it must have been like for him as he aged and did not have the advantages we have of progressive bifocals… surely that explains a lot of his later paintings and his love of the lily pads and foggy mornings…

    Two of my favorite books are one about the house and gardens and another written by an American woman who moved there to work in the gardens for several years. Please come over and have a Monet morning with me when you get home! I have added a giant lotus and several water lilies to my little pond this year and have thought several times of Giverney as I watch the gazillion frogs laying about on the lilly pads with the bright goldfish swimming under them. Takes me back to Karlyn’s waterlily and frog lesson!

    Your ink drawings and free form watercolor are fabulous. And what a bonus to meet up the another artist and get your pictures taken. You are blessed.

    So proud of you for striking out and doing this. Have a ball and be safe.


    • Hi Pat! And thanks for the newsy note. I’m not the most knowledgeable plant person but there were so many flowers in bloom that I was surprised. Here it is mid September and there were still sunflowers in bloom. Not many, but a few. I love the idea of enjoying a Monet morning with you! I’d welcome the chance to see your water garden. I am thinking about doing something like that in my yard after being in Monet’s garden. The addition of goldfish sounds perfect. Thanks so much for checking in. It makes me happy to hear from home. ❤️

  • Barb Means says:

    Wow!!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Bonnie Everhart says:

    I am enjoying every minute you have shared; it is wonderful power on!

  • Wow. I would love to be with you in Monet’s gardens. What a lovely experience. We are back in Bloomington, Indiana, again. I’m taking a class with Linda Meyer-Wright experimenting with intuitive expression. I think I need Monet and you to find my way. Enjoy you trip. I am.

    • Hi Jerry, Maybe someday I’ll bring a group to Monet’s garden…it is something else to experience it as an artist! When I return, I would LOVE to have you join me. I’m happy to hear that you are still soaking up the ideas for your art. You are so creative and I always enjoy seeing where you take the lessons in class. It’s great to keep learning and trying new stuff. Good for you and good for all of us! Thanks for checking in…

  • Haley says:

    Hi Momma! I’m so happy to read this. Your painting is gorgeous. I want a copy 🙂 Love you!

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