Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Impressionism in Art


Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette, 1876

Last night on In the Zone, hosted by myself and Robi Cohen on the Creative EdVentures network, our focus was on the Impressionists.  Impressionism began with a group of artists based in Paris beginning in around the 1870s.


Monet, Impression Soleil Levant (Impression, Sunrise), 1873

The name is taken from the title of a painting by Monet (shown above).  Instead of creating the typical painting in which a high degree of realism was desired, Monet (and subsequently, the other Impressionists) sought an impression of a sunrise, the boats, the water.  Instead of well defined lines, the edges were soft, suggesting the shapes instead of depicting them clearly and sharply.


Van Gogh, Starry Night, 1889

Impressionists were seen as radicals at the time because of their approach.  Focusing on colour and light and the interplay of the two defied the rules of painting set out by the art academies, which stressed lines and contours.


Mary Cassatt, American. At the Theater, 1879

Prior to this time, still lifes, portraits, and landscapes were painted in the studios but with a focus on light and its changes and how those changes affected colour, Impressionists preferred painting “en plein air” (outside).  They felt that this was the best way of capturing on canvas those changes in light and the effects they had.


Laura Muntz Lyall, Canadian. Oriental Poppies, 1915

Although Impressionists still painted from what they saw in front of them, their focus was more on the emotions and essences of the colours and light and showing these subjects through that lens. 


Seurat, A Sunday on la Grande Jatte, 1884 (did you know that this painting is 10 feet wide and took Seurat 2 years to complete?  Much of that two year period was spent in the park doing more than 60 studies in sketching to prepare for the painting.  The original is in the Art Institute of Chicago but he made several painting studies for the painting including a smaller version that is in the Met, in New York City.)

As with most new phases in art, Impressionism developed, progressed, and evolved into other sub-branches including Post-Impressionism, Neo-Impressionism, and Pointillism.  The Seurat painting above and the Pissarro below are both excellent examples of Pointillism.  In this technique, tiny dots of paint in varying shades and colours form the parts of the painting by relying on the viewer’s eye to blend the colours rather than physically blending them on the canvas.

800px-Camille_Pissarro_019 Kinder auf einem Bauernhof pointillism 

Camille Pissarro, Kinder auf einem Bauernhof, 1887


For my demo, I showed how I create “tissue paper paintings”, using torn pieces of tissue papers.  Because I use the torn paper to create these images, there aren’t very defined lines and the end results remind me of Impressionism.


I added a few accent lines with a fine tipped black Sharpie to enhance the flower and leaf shapes.  You can see in the first picture where I left some without the lines so that you can see the difference.

If you didn’t get the chance to see the show live, here’s the playback link so you can check it out:  http://www.linqto.com/PlaybackRoom.aspx?roomname=creativeedventures&name=SingleExplicit_2011_06_20_19_59_31_554

Join us next Monday at 9 pm Eastern for our Canada Day tribute to Canadian artists The Group of Seven.  Here’s the link to the room for the live show:  http://linqto.com/rooms/creativeedventures

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