Inspired by Impressionism

Impasto, Monet, Degas, and Color-Filled Canvases

The art crush we all have on Impressionism stems from many different factors. The artists are top notch. The textures that take center stage on the canvas enliven the senses. And the color! Oh. My. Goodness. The. Color. If you are as inspired by Impressionism as I am, keep these four painting prompts near to mind when you next give your muse its due. They will lead you to a creative sweet spot where your inspirations and your own unique ways of art will combine.

All That Texture

There was a time when smooth, glassy surfaces were the height of artistic output in Western art. Impressionists changed all that. Manipulating surface textures with thick brushstrokes of broken color, these artists shocked the art world and freed painters to embrace impasto. Don’t waste the opportunity to explore and play with texture. Heavily load up your brush, use a palette knife and keep texture foremost in your mind for your next painting.

Still Life: Vase with Pink Roses is an oil painting on canvas completed by Vincent van Gogh in 1890 and shows a wide range of impasto techniques.

Still Life: Vase with Pink Roses is an oil painting on canvas completed by Vincent van Gogh in 1890 and shows a wide range of impasto techniques.

All About Monet

How can one artist have so many iconic masterpieces? Monet’s name is synonymous with Impressionism but don’t forget that if you scratch beneath the surface you will find what unites us all — the struggle. Monet cared so deeply about his art, and yet for all of the glories and accolades, he still suffered from the creative frustrations and insecurities that I know I have gone through too. If you take Monet as your inspiration for a session of painting, focus on how he put light first. Really study and push color into the light. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to go a few rounds to get it right! You are in good company!

If you take Monet as your inspiration for a session of painting, focus on how he put light first. Really study and push color into the light. And don’t be too hard on yourself if you have to go a few rounds to get it right! You are in good company!

Argenteuil by Claude Monet, 1874.

Argenteuil by Claude Monet, 1874. Monet’s lights and skies are filled with so many subtle colors. Sit with them and just let them unfold before your eyes. Take notes and think on how you’ll replicate the technique in your next Impressionist artwork.

All About Degas

If Monet was all about the light, Degas was all about the subject. He painted intimate moments, slices of life of the pop culture of his day, and figures from many walks of life. His work was both praised and scorned in his day, but history has the last word and that word tends to be quite definitive in situating him in the pantheon of art history. When you decide on your next subject matter, take a page out of Degas’ book and paint what you want — what draws you and inspires you — and don’t apologize for it. Ever.

At the Café-Concert: The Song of the Dog by Edgar Degas, 1875–1877.

At the Café-Concert: The Song of the Dog by Edgar Degas, 1875–1877.

All That Color

Bouquets. Jewelry boxes. Sunsets. Name a color-filled item or object and the colors that come to mind are still only a bit of the story of Impressionism. Color was everywhere for the artists who practiced in this style. For your next painting, make it about finding color, pushing color, and making color stand out.

Haystacks by Claude Monet, 1890-91.

Haystacks by Claude Monet, 1890-91.

 All the Landscapes

Impressionism was also about a love for fresh air and seeing your subject matter up close and personally. Make sure you take the time to embrace landscape painting in real time as a plein air artist — at least during the height of the summer season — and discover the no-fail ways of painting outdoors with Outdoor Artist, the definitive resource and magazine for plein air painters…and those of us who dabble as such when the Impressionist mood takes us! Enjoy!

Courtney

 

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