Monday, 23 May 2016

Art history notes - Impressionism - Characteristics

Characteristics / Innovations of Impressionist painting:


·      Working out of doors (plein air)

·      Painting subjects including figures directly from nature and out of doors.

·      Using colour in place of black or grey

·      Artists became aware that shadows are not grey or brown, but coloured.  They avoided black and instead mixed complementary colour’s to achieve grey and dark tones.

·      They examined the effects of bright sunshine of light on water and snow and noticed, for example, the blue of the sky reflecting on surfaces like snow, making blue and purple shadows. 

·      Observing the effects of light

·      Artists noticed how subjects change colours when placed in different positions or light.

·      They used slabs of unmixed primary colours and small brushstrokes to stimulate reflected light. 

·      They used the law of optics to create optical mixing.  In other words, they placed small brushstrokes of unmixed, vivid colour directly onto the canvas and allowed the mixture of colour to form in the spectators own vision.

·      Working with loose brushstrokes

·      Artists worked quickly, using short, thick brushstrokes of paint to capture the essence of the subject rather than its details; they used loose brushstrokes to capture a feeling of movement or quivering light.

·      Painting with flat brushes – the tache

·      Impressionist paintings have become known for the tache (which means ‘patch’) and refers to a coloured brushstroke achieved by the use of a brush (newly available at that time) that was flat rather than round/

·      Applying thick, wet paint on the surface

·      Impressionist paintings were typically opaque, with wet paint often placed onto wet paint to produce a unique, soft – edged effect and an intermingling of colour (earlier painters had built up the surface slowly in thin layers or transparent glazes.)

·      The influence of Photography and Japenese prints

·      Impressionism was influenced by two cultural trends in the late 19th century: the rise of photography and the European discovery of the Japenese decorative arts, especially print – making, a trend known as Japonisme.

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