Impressionism

March 4, 2019

 

Imagine yourself being a French painter in the 18th-19th century. You're, like a hermit, almost forced to stay in your studio. You don't go out, but instead bring everything in:

You bring in models, whom you paint

You bring in pigments, which you grind and mix with oil, and you have to remember all the proportions to keep the paint colour constant.

You bring in fruits, vegetables and other things you use to assemble composition for your still life.

You bring in brushes, canvas… basically everything you need to paint. Oh, yeah, and once in a while you get out, but only to get back fast. During this brief outside moment you make a sketch out to, which you bring, you guessed it, inside.

 

Not the brightest image right? Well, yes. But things are changing for you.

In particular two things started to influence painters:

  1. Paint tubes invented in 1841, that allowed several things: you can always keep a few in your pocket, someone does all the grinding-mixing packaging for you, you can use a bit of paint and screw the cap on.

  2. Then  railroad becomes available for you. Introduced to France in 1823, by the middle of the century it connected the whole country into one network.

So you - the painter - now can get a full bag of paint tubes, a handful of brushes, get your canvas and portable easel - and leave your lair to discover the beauty of the outside world.

 

You can witness sunrises and sunsets in lots of places and capture it immediately. Then you call your painter friends to join you. Then you call it “En plein air”. Then you decide that lines and contours in your paintings are less important than colour. You're using more and more vibrant and vivid colours. You apply it, sometimes pure, by visible strokes. Everyone in “academic” circles of that time laughs at you, calls you names, and does not let to expose your works at salons.

 

Congratulations, you're now an impressionist! It will take you time, but people will be on your side, you will learn to make money, finally get to the salons and win prizes!

 

Having in mind all the story take a look at these beautiful paintings by Arkhip Kuindzhi, Julian Onderdonk and John Ottis Adams. Making these copies allowed me to feel free like the first impressionists who suddenly were let of to see the beauty of life as it is outside the studio. Technically printing in this style also teaches your how to keep your palette under control, and use only a few colours: three or four. So my advice would be, even if you don't like the style, still practice it.

 

 

 

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