A pair of foggy lens eyes lay on top of a gold framed painting that is imitating the impressionistic style of Claude Monet. Cataract, painter, vision loss

Monet & Macular Degeneration

The famous Impressionist artist, Monet, had serious vision challenges, yet he created masterpieces from what he saw. Following is an excerpt from a poem written about his challenges, which he did not consider a curse.

Monet Refuses The Operation

by Lisel Mueller

Doctor, you say there are no haloes around the streetlights in Paris
And what I see is an aberration caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
To soften and blur and finally banish the edges you regret I don’t see,
To learn that the line I called the horizon does not exist and sky and water,
So long apart, are the same state of being.
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Certainly a different perspective about distorted vision!

The view inside Monet’s world

After seeing the 'Monet & Friends' exhibit recently at an art museum, this poem – sent to me by a friend – had special meaning. At the museum, I was transfixed by the riot of bright, muted colors and the way he “saw” what he painted, allowing objects to flow into each other. This poem was a testament to the “vision” through which Monet created the masterpieces we still enjoy today.

What impressed me most was how he used his failing sight as an ADVANTAGE and resisted treatment for many years. In his early 60’s, Monet’s sight began to fail due to cataracts. He did not have cataract surgery until he was 82, even though surgery was recommended much earlier and was largely successful.

This is not to say we should not consider improving our condition if we can BUT it certainly does give a far different perspective to appreciating a different way to view the  world, especially in cases when there is no known treatment. It really made me pause and actually reignited an interest I have in learning to paint. Maybe it’s not too late!

Shifting my perspective on my art

For years, I have done portrait drawings, which required a lot of detail. Part of my bucket list was to complete pencil drawings of all my grandchildren while I still could, which I finished a few years ago.

However, it’s harder now at the intermediate stage of macular degeneration to do the detail BUT maybe I could switch to painting? Never tried it but, hey, if Monet can do it, maybe I could, too? What’s stopping me from creating my own unique art?

How about you? What might you try now? Is it time to make a mental shift and do more? There’s still so much we CAN do - Look at Monet!

Parting words from the poem about Monet

“Doctor, if only you could see how heaven pulls earth into its arms and how infinitely the heart expands to claim this world, blur vapor without end.”

Imagine the next sunset, or flower, or lily on a pond as seen through YOUR eyes. It might look miraculously beautiful beyond words! It may look different but possibly even more beautiful. What will you create today or tomorrow? There’s no stopping us. Only our minds can do that! Keep going - Keep creating - Keep being YOU!

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