North Dakota art professor and painter goes to work with inspiration from Monet’s garden

Kimble Bromley is no green thumb, but he’s been working on his gardens for months.

Inspired by a visit to Claude Monet’s home and garden in France and studying the impressionist’s art, Bromley has been painting his own take on the colorful scenery.

“Seeing his gardens, I can see where he got his inspiration,” says Bromley, an art professor at North Dakota State University.

Kimble Bromley's painting, "Japanese Bridge at Giverny." Special to The Forum

Kimble Bromley’s painting, “Japanese Bridge at Giverny.” Special to The Forum

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In 2019, Bromley visited Monet’s fabled home and garden in Giverny, France, and also toured museums that featured the great painter’s work.

“Monet has been on my list forever,” he says. “Everyone knows Monet, but to really see them is something else.”

Bromley has been influenced by other painters, like American abstract expressionist Richard Diebenkorn, but was always fascinated by Monet, considered the founder of the impressionist art movement.

Kimble Bromley's painting, "Boats at Giverny." Special to The Forum

Kimble Bromley’s painting, “Boats at Giverny.” Special to The Forum

The more he studied Monet’s strokes, the more amazed he was by the great artist.

“I wanted to look at how he paints. I still don’t know how he does it,” he says. “There’s a real textured quality to a lot of his work and I don’t know how he does that.”

While he didn’t get answers to all of his questions, he returned home armed with inspiration and started his own series of garden paintings based on the hundreds of photos he took in France.

Bromley jokes that his pond at his home between Pelican Rapids and Barnesville, Minn., is more reeds and grasses than the water lilies Monet made famous.

Kimble Bromley's painting, "Color in Monet's Garden." Special to The Forum

Kimble Bromley’s painting, “Color in Monet’s Garden.” Special to The Forum

Monet started painting his water lilies in 1899 and would do so for the next two decades. He would import varieties from South America and Egypt for diversity in shape and color. The great would also become something of a landscape architect, leaving detailed instructions for his gardeners, which numbered as many as seven at a time.

At Bromley’s home, gardening is his wife’s area of expertise.

“That’s her lane. I stay out of that,” he says with a laugh.

Bromley started painting his own pond in about 2006, but the color in Monet’s gardens was a whole new inspiration.

He’s not trying to copy works, but rather learn from Monet by exploring some of the same light, shapes and colors, even 100 years after the master first captured them.

“These are much tougher than other paintings I’ve done, more photolike, more realistic,” he says.

Still, like the impressionists, Bromley is more given to creating the suggestion of a subject than overly detailing it.

“I like to be painterly, to show this is done with paint but still get this illusion of what you’re looking at. You get up close and they’re nothing but brushstrokes,” he says.

He recently started his sixth painting in the series and like the prolific Monet, doesn’t see an end to the inspiration anytime soon.

“I’ve got a whole bunch of ideas yet, so I’m going to keep going,” he says.