Impressionistic painting was a reaction to the more precisely crafted and classically styled techniques of the old masters. This movement, (roughly 1860 -1900), brought artists out of the studio and into the open air to observe the every day life of the middle and lower classes.
Because this style of painting was generally done quickly to capture an artist’s impression of an event as it happened, little effort was made to conceal brush strokes or to worry about small details. Also, little time was spent on mixing paint to render exacting hues. Instead primary paints colors were applied to the canvas right out of their tubes. The result of these techniques was a relatively loose and brightly colored painting that suggested excitement, immediacy and movement.
The name Impressionism was coined by an art critic that considered this style of painting to be no more than unfinished sketches of the artist’s impressions. The French art establishment at the time mostly rejected these works for exhibitions, gallery inclusion, juried prizes and for membership qualification into the all important Academie.
Impressionists eventually received permission from the Emperor Napoleon III to set up their own juried exhibit called the Salon of the Refused. The public was slow to except this new form of painting and as a result a limited number of artists were able to eventually earn a living while many important others never did.
A partial list of significant artists that incorporated the Impressionistic painting style into their work include; Cassatt, Cezanne, Degas, Manet, Monet, Morisot, Pissarro, Renoir, and Sisley.
Tips For Impressionistic Painting:
1. Paint out of doors.
2. Use techniques that allow for quick work. For example, consider using impasto techniques for applying wet paint upon wet paint.
3. Do not spend much time mixing colors. Instead boldly apply them directly from the tube. This saves time and can create a vibrant, exciting feel to the painting.
3. Pay close attention to the changes in color as light is reflected from one object to another.
4. Work to generate an impression that captures the essence of what you see. Do not become hung up on minute details. Let the pure Realists worry about that.
5. Bring practical supplies so that you can stay on location for the entire day if needed. Consider bringing several layers of clothing to keep comfortable as the temperature rises throughout the day. Food, water, rain gear and even a first aid kit can also come in handy.
It is absolutely necessary to learn well the fundamentals of painting to get the most out the Impressionistic painting style. Formal education at a credible art school or even purchasing a thorough video painting course can have an amazing impact. When you have conquered the basic fundamental techniques and visual skills to the point where they are almost an unconscious activity you will then be able to focus more completely on your impressions of the world beyond the easel.