My life inside an impressionist painting (shimmer)

Early autumn, Bassin de la Villette, Paris 19dsc02968

If you contemplate Monet’s waterlilies and then turn your gaze back to the present world, everything seems to glow with an inner light, especially here, near where he painted, at about the 50th parallel, a similar latitude to Quebec and Seattle, much farther north than the Washington, DC suburb where I was born, so much closer to the equator. When I first came here, I had no idea what this meant. Something felt “off”…not quite the way it was supposed to be, grayer, muted. In time I understood that the closer you are to the poles, sunlight enters the atmosphere more at a slant, with less intense luminosity, and perhaps a prismatic effect depending on the weather. You have to seek out radiance everywhere you can, but once your eyes adjust, you learn to detect a shimmer in the air, a subtle sparkle in each color…

To be continued…. xxxxx Aliss

My life inside an impressionist painting (cont.)


…From the documentary at the Orangerie museum about Monet’s Waterlily vision: he first imagined creating an immersive environment in 1897 but was unable to work on it for years, grieving for his wife and son, losing his sight to cataracts, then undergoing eye surgery. As war raged across Europe, he was possessed by an almost supernatural energy,  constructing a huge atelier in Giverny to house the panels, now twice the size he originally planned. Encouraged by his friend, the statesman Clémenceau, he completed the canvases  at the end of World War I, as a gift to the people of France and everywhere, as a sanctuary amid the alienating aspects of our modern world.

Clémenceau and Monet chose the Orangerie building both for its location by the Seine, the river flowing through Giverny and Monet’s life,  and also because it stands in  a garden, the Tuileries, on an East-West axis, like Paris itself, aligned with cycles of day and night depicted in the paintings.

I want to see my world as Monet saw, alive with light… past, present, future, eternity in every moment.

xxxxx Aliss

My life inside an impressionist painting (updated Sept. 28)


Reflections from my Parisian village….

Had a hard time reentering the Parisphere this year, so made a list of places to reconnect with the soul of France. First stop: le Musée de l’Orangerie to see Monet’s Waterlilies:

Yes, of course you can take the virtual tour via the link above and you can go there on a crowded weekend, walk through the oval rooms filming with your smartphone, and check it off your list of tourist attractions to “do” in Paris. That’s about how I did it the first time. Then I accompanied US friends to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny (about two hours northwest) and crossed that off my list, too, but something kept pulling me back. I researched the best time to go to avoid the tour buses and found myself spending hours sitting by the lily pond under the willow branches, immersed in peace and beauty. Then I returned to see the waterlilies at the Orangerie, again and again, weekdays at lunch time, when it’s almost empty, sliding around the oval benches in the soft natural light, facing the panels with soft eyes until the colors imprinted on my retina and I could almost slip between the layers of flowers, water, clouds, and sky. I wanted only the sensual elemental experience, not an intellectual art-snob number, so I deliberately ignored all documentation.

This time I went on a Thursday midday, was almost alone in the twin spaces and finally saw that the exhibit is not a rendering of Giverny’s pond, but more freely interpreted to create loops of time, light, and overlapping worlds. Later I wandered into the deserted audiovisual room downstairs and had the film about how Monet created this place all to myself.  There is much more to say, in the coming days,  about how my vision has been transformed by Monet’s spirit, how I’m seeing my cityscape literally in a different light.

To be continued….. xxxxx Aliss

Horizon Therapy/Back to School (updated Sept 4)

Atlantic Coast near Deauville, August 31, 2016DSC02927


From the Online Etymological Dictionary site:

horizon (n.) Look up horizon at Dictionary.comlate 14c., orisoun, from Old French orizon (14c., Modern French horizon), earlier orizonte (13c.), from Latin horizontem (nominative horizon), from Greek horizon (kyklos) “bounding (circle),” from horizein “bound, limit, divide, separate,” from horos “boundary, landmark, marking stones.” The h- was restored in English 17c. in imitation of Latin. Old English used eaggemearc (“eye-mark”) for “limit of view, horizon.” The apparent horizon is distinguished from the celestial or astronomical horizon.


horizon ‎(plural horizons)

  1. The horizontal line that appears to separate the Earth from the sky.
    A tall building was visible on the horizon.
  2. The range or limit of one’s knowledgeexperience or interest.
    Some students take a gap year after finishing high school to broaden their horizons.
  3. (geology) A specific layer of soil or strata
  4. (archaeology, US) A cultural sub-period or level within a more encompassing time period.
(line separating Earth and sky): skysillskyline


So what is on the horizon as we start a new school year? The next level we want to reach? The limit we want to  transcend? Our intention for our next circle around the sun? Personal? Professional? Global?

As I sift through answers, I remember a song I heard kids singing at Wayfinder Experience bardic circle campfires:

There are many versions, lyrics adapted from a Chinese proverb and put to music by Sharon Durrant…

When there is light in the soul

There is beauty in the person

When there is beauty in the person

There is harmony in the home

When there is harmony in the home

There is honor in the nation

When there is honor in the nation

There is peace in the world


To the light in our souls   xxxxx Aliss