The Sea at Le Havre Experience Reproduction

Made by Sienna Stritter

To produce a work that captures the experience of Monet's "The Sea at Le Havre"

Created: October 6th, 2015



I visited the Carnegie Museum of Art this weekend and decided to study The Sea at Le Havre, painted in 1868 by the French painter Claude Monet. 



The painting depicts the Normandy coast, where Monet supposedly spent his childhood. I selected this piece because I was immediately drawn to the symmetry between the sky and water. It’s divided almost exactly in half by the horizon, and Monet uses similar colors and brush strokes to create parallel textures so that the sea echoes the sky. 

- He captures the motion of both sea and sky, thus portraying the fleeting and ever changing quality of nature in time.

- He also demonstrates the vastness of physical space through the expansiveness of the water and sky and how they seem to stretch forever before meeting at the horizon.

- Monet also shows the various states of the sea. He uses different brush strokes, colors, and thickness of paint to capture the water as it sits in the body of the ocean, as the wave breaks, and as the current flows back. In doing so, he demonstrates the transient nature of different states and the inevitable shift between them. 


Experience and Response

I love being at the beach and doing nothing but sitting and observing. My home is only 30 minutes from the Pacific coast but even though I go to the shore frequently, every time I am struck by the vastness of the ocean and the remarkably dynamic quality it has. This painting made me a little nostalgic for the beach at home, an emotion that Monet likely felt as well as he recreated a scene from his childhood.

My experience was centered around three aspects of the painting:


The brush strokes intentionally evoke motion in both the water and the sky. In a still painting, Monet expressed the idea that life doesn’t stop and time keeps on going and the world keeps on changing.


In the painting, the sea and sky are both active, yet perfectly balanced. This put me at peace, for both are dynamic and changing yet they settle together nicely at the horizon. A peaceful intersection of the two reminded me that all the different chaotic aspects of life still coexist and coincide smoothly.


It made me feel small and insignificant, as the great ocean often does, because of how the sail boat, people on the shore, and town are important features but seem to be dwarfed by the surrounding nature.



I used Inkscape to recreate the experience of Monet’s The Sea at Le Havre. I started with white lines on two different blue backgrounds. I used the ripple filter to distort the lines. I thought that this helped to evoke motion.     


Then I juxtaposed the two images and blurred the edges. My goal here was to recreate the idea of seamless yet distinct boundary between two distinct things.     


I continued to distort the image with various filters. When I observed the painting in person, I was particularly surprised by how thickly the paint was layered. Since I could not create physical three-dimensional texture digitally, I tried layering different filters to produce a textured feel. Here are a couple of iterations:     


My favorite and final iteration is shown below. I picked this one because I thought it represented the characterizing feelings of my experience the best.      



This assignment was challenging for me because I struggled to distinguish between my true, authentic experience and what I thought Monet was trying to get his viewers to experience. I do not think I entirely captured my experience with The Sea at Le Havre with my creation. For one, mine does not induce the same nostalgia I felt because it is too abstract to remind me of a real life experience in my past. I do think I was able to capture the transiency I was reminded of because how dainty, wispy, and temporary the white lines turned out. They make me think of soapy residue left in water that quickly dissolves and disappears. This reinforces the idea that everything changes and nothing in life is permanent, which was a big part of the message I got from Monet’s work. I also like the way the intersection of the two colors turned out. It’s defined, but not rigid and severe. This demonstrates the way two different things can echo one another while interacting in a peaceful and balanced way. The biggest thing I don’t like about my work, though, is that it really fails to capture the idea of vastness (and thus fails to make the viewer small and irrelevant) that was so striking in The Sea at Le Havre. If I could redo the project, I would try to skew the image or add some sort of perspective to make it look like the different colors were stretching into the distance.

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To produce a work that captures the experience of Monet's "The Sea at Le Havre"