Through the eyes of Monet

By TOM CASKA
Posted 10/23/19

The beauty of the fall here in the Upper Delaware Valley is undeniable, and we will have only a short time left to absorb the pallet of colors that surrounds us. As a student of art, I was always …

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Through the eyes of Monet

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The beauty of the fall here in the Upper Delaware Valley is undeniable, and we will have only a short time left to absorb the pallet of colors that surrounds us. As a student of art, I was always impressed by the paintings of Claude Monet. One of my favorites reminds me of the fall: “Garden Path at Giverny,” painted in 1902. Monet used his impressionist style to create a scene much reminiscent of how the sunlight spills through the trees of our hills. Early mornings are my favorite when the steam is coming off the lakes, as the rising sun lights up the trees and landscape across the still water. Many a morning the water is still, reflecting like a mirror the hues of the leaves on the trees. The reflection is a mere impression of reds, orange, yellow and green, only a mild wind will disrupt the image on the water. If you can squint your eyes you can see what Monet might have seen.

Recovering from a recent injury had me going to Catskill Regional Hospital for treatment in their hyperbaric chamber. The staff there is fantastic and made the experience much easier. The chamber is what divers use to help to recover from the bends. During treatment you are breathing 100% oxygen under pressure, your vitals are taken before and after treatment, which normally lasts about two hours on a daily basis. The beds are comfortable, and during the treatment you can nap, watch TV, or select a favorite movie DVD to watch. I enjoyed watching the traffic flow out the window, wondering where all those cars were going on Route 17. Time passes quickly; the change of seasons became evident as the weeks rolled on.

There are not many side effects to this treatment; as the pressure is raised and lowered in the chamber, you will get the same feeling of pressure on your ears much like taking off or landing on an airplane. I experienced something that is not the same for everyone. My eyesight did a switch, normally I need glasses to read but have no problem with distance. Over time, I could read with no problem but my distance sight changed so everything was slightly out of focus, it was like looking with the soft lens of a camera. The fall colors were amazing, and although my sight has returned to normal, many a morning I would stop driving long enough to enjoy the view, especially the fall colors in their entire splendor.

In 1902, Claude Monet was 62; his eyes were showing the first signs of cataracts, which affected his interpretation of color. His paintings at this time would have had a more reddish tone, which is a condition of the vision of cataract victims. Monet eventually had surgery, after which he was able to see certain ultraviolet light that can be seen in his work thereafter. He also went back and repainted some of his older paintings with more of a bluer hue than before.

I can never claim that I will know what Monet really saw through his eyes, but his paintings are there for all of us to enjoy. What I can say is that for a brief time this year I was looking through the lens of an impressionist. In the meantime, if I want to see through the eyes of Monet all I need to do is just squint my eyes and enjoy the view.

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