Monthly Archives: January 2019

On the Trail of Monet’s Cathedrals and Haystacks: Musee d’Orsay, Paris

When my husband and I visited northern France recently,  one of our delights was to enjoy Impressionist art in two Paris museums that have large Impressionist collections, see as many of Monet’s cathedral and haystack paintings as possible, and travel to the sites where Monet painted them.

When Impressionist art finally caught on and began to sell, Monet bought a farmhouse and land in Giverny, just an hour by train west of Paris near the Seine River. He devoted years and lots of francs to creating and painting his gardens and also spent much time on several series of paintings that highlight his passion to show how light constantly changes an object, (haystacks, poplars, cathedral) depending on time of day or weather.

We planned and followed our own “Monet Trail” from Paris to Giverny and on to Rouen in Normandy.

We began with Musee d’Orsay in Paris. (In the left photo above, Musee s’Orsay is to the left of the Eiffel Tower. Photo taken from the Tuileries)

Musee d’Orsay began as Gare d’Orsay, a large, ornate train station

Gare d’Orsay, wikimedia

across the Seine from the Louvre, serving trains coming from southwestern France, but by 1939 the trains had outgrown its short platforms. The station eventually faced demolition, but in the 1970s it was listed as an historical monument and saved. An idea surfaced to turn the station into a museum for Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, which didn’t fit the Louvre, whose collection ended in the mid 1800s, or the Pompidou Center, which houses more modern art—think Picasso.

So Gare d’Orsay reopened its doors in 1986 as Musee d’Orsay, and once again people rush to get in.

You must still run a gauntlet of shops, but instead of food and neck pillows, posters, paint sets, and umbrellas, all with Impressionist scenes, tempt you.

We resisted and emerged into a huge open space. Beneath its soaring glass roof, trains once pulled in, slowing to a stop at platforms where travelers waited to board.





A gold decorative design still climbs the walls and arches across the roof. A large, gilded clock that once helped passengers get to their trains on time, still hangs high above.

Look back at the old station photo above to see the clock and that the walls and roof haven’t changed much.

But statues now stand where the tracks ran, and people now step into galleries of Realist paintings (Millet, Corot, etc.) and Post-Impressionist works (Van Gogh, Seurat, etc.) instead of into trains.

We would come back to those, but hoping to beat the crowds, we walked to the far end of the museum to take a series of escalators to the very top, where under the roof, rooms of incredible Impressionist art follow one another like train cars.

Woman with Parasol paintings by Monet

We spent several happy hours with colorful and light-filled paintings by Monet, Pissarro, Degas, Morisot, Renoir, Cassatt, and others. And among the paintings, we saw several from Monet’s haystack and cathedral series!

We took time to look out at Paris through the 2 mammoth clocks way up there under the roof and stroll on the balcony that gives amazing views of the Louvre all the way to Sacre Coeur on top of Montmartre. A bright beginning to our vacation!





And how wonderful that France has preserved this historic station and used it so appropriately for displaying Impressionist art. I’ll explain why it’s so appropriate in an upcoming post. But my very next post will be about another terrific, but lesser-known, collection of Impressionist art in Paris.


The Impressionists had many things in common such as their colorful modern subjects, but some preferred landscapes, while others enjoyed painting people.

Look at a few paintings by the following artists, and you’ll soon see what each preferred. But also notice the subtle differences between types of landscapes or types of people. Monet vs. Pissarro; Degas vs. Renoir. And why do you think the women, Berthe Morisot and Mary Cassatt, concentrated on family life? Was that just their preference or was there another reason? Let me know what you think!

Molly loves the Paris lifestyle!

Sign up to receive Kathythepicturelady posts and find out about our next stop in Paris, the one that has the world’s largest collection of Monet’s paintings, including the painting that gave the art movement its name, Impression, Sunrise. And to find out how individual Impressionist artists differed.

Except for the old postcard of Gare d’Orsay, all photos in this post were taken by the author.


















Enjoying Nature in Winter

I’m almost ready to begin the posts on Monet and his cathedral and haystack series—look for it soon!

But first I just had to encourage you not to give up your nature studies just because it’s winter. There’s still so much to see out there! Continue reading to find out some of the things I have recently seen outside in the cold and snow and to see a list of classic winter children’s books—all but one are Caldecott winners—that you’ll want to share with your class at school or with your children and grandchildren!

Here are some reasons to get outside in winter:

  • Because it’s beautiful out there, especially after a new snow!
  • Because now that the leaves are gone, winter is a great time to spot bird nests and see all the different sizes and shapes . Recently I passed a young tree that doesn’t have many branches yet. Even in summer it didn’t yet have dense foliage, but I had passed it all summer without seeing the humming bird nest in it! Small as a doll’s teacup, the nest has survived fall winds and winter snows and maybe next year the humming bird will reuse it. Now that I know it’s there I’ll be keeping a close eye on it in the spring and summer!
  • Because you can observe animal tracks in the snow. If you go out soon after a new snow, you may see rabbit or squirrel or even deer tracks. It’s even fun to pick out different dog feet and their human’s shoe sizes and patterns!     In our area we have large jack rabbits, and after the last snow, their tracks criss-crossed the park and its paths. I could even tell from how widely spaced the tracks were, how fast he was traveling! You can google tracks you’re not sure of.
  • And last, but certainly not least, because it’s fun to watch year-round birds and observe their winter habits. Maybe you and your family can put out a feeder to attract winter birds. In our neighborhood flocks of crows have been visiting lately. They come in groups of about 25 and wander over the park and nearby lawns, looking like black chickens pecking at the ground. 

Make some winter memories! Go for a walk or build a snowman with your class or your own children or grandchildren, then come in and gather in your cozy classroom reading spot or around the fire because it’s time to warm up with some great winter reads:

Hot Cocoa, Anyone?

The following books are classics—all but one are Caldecott winners—so they’re readily available in your library or in many bookstores as well as on Amazon. It’s amazing how many Caldecott winners have been about winter!!

  • The Tough Winter,  in this chapter-type book, Little Georgie, Willie Fieldmouse and all the other woodland creatures are back from Rabbit Hill, Robert Lawson’s Newbery Medal book. They must survive many winter hardships, but they do it with lots of humor and warm friendship.
  • White Snow, Bright Snow by Alvin Tresselt, 1948 Caldecott medal. While adults work to shovel or continue their work through the snow, the children build snowmen and taste snowflakes on their tongues.
  • The Big Snow by Berta and Elmer Hader, 1949 Caldecott medal. Forest animals prepare for a big snow.
  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, 1963 Caldecott medal. A young boy enjoys the first snowfall in the city.
  • Frederick by Leo Lionni, 1967 Caldecott Honor book. While the other mice gather food for winter, Frederick, a mouse artist and poet, gathers beautiful colors and stories for long, bleak winter days. As an artist and one who sometimes moans about winter’s dark days, this book has always touched my heart!
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, 1988 Caldecott medal. A little girl and her father take a late night walk to see and hear an owl. Other forest creatures appear in the illustrations.
  • Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, 1999 Caldecott medal. A nonfiction picture book about Wilson Bentley (1865-1931), a Vermont farmer. He loved nature, and with great patience and determination, learned how to photograph individual snowflakes.
  • Finish up your story time with verses from Job 38-39 or Psalm 104, which remind us that God is the loving and wise Creator of the world and all it contains. And He continues in power to uphold and sustain it.  End as Psalm 104 does: 

“Praise the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord.”

Does your family have a favorite book about winter? Let me know in the comment section below!

This is how Molly relaxes at our sliding door after one of our winter walks! Notice her little crossed back legs!

I have some good writing news. I have seven devotions in the winter 2018-2019 (December, January, February) of The Quiet Hour quarterly devotional available from David C. Cook. If you’re interested, you can enjoy 3 months of short, daily devotions by a number of authors.

Happy New Year to you all. I appreciate all of you who read and tell me you enjoy KathythePicturelady blog

Molly is looking forward to our Monet series. Monet painted some of his favorite haystack paintings in the winter! Sign up to see Molly as a French corgi and enjoy some sights and art from France!!