To survive in New York, I found I needed to focus on tiny things. In a city that is large, brash and self-confident, it is easy to walk so fast to keep up that you fail to notice small tiny things.
I love the Impressionist artists, in particular Monet. I remember when Keith and I visited L’Orangerie in Paris, we sat in the water lily room for what seemed like hours. Monet painted his water lilies again and again and again. He never tired of them and managed to make them look different – the light, their size, their shape, their colour. It is no longer just a “water lily”.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has a wonderful collection of art, breathtaking in its breadth and beauty. It contains some Monet, including his water lilies. I could have spent hours in that place, slowly meandering from painting to painting, however, you get pulled by the crowds and need to dodge and dash and are forced to move in a perpetual loop from one gallery to the next – ah, yes there are those water lilies and then they are gone as you move onto Renoir and then Degas.
There is another artist, who lived and worked in New York – Georgia O’Keefe, who also painted flowers. This is what she said:
“So I said to myself – I’ll paint what I see – what the flower is to me but I’ll paint it big and they will be surprised into taking time to look at it – I will make even busy New Yorkers take time to see what I see of flowers.”
I can’t paint, but I love to take photographs. So I spent time taking photos of little things that gave me pleasure. I am sure that most New Yorkers don’t notice many of these things, but they are there if you look for them.