#ArtKnowItAll: Impressionism

The artwork above is called ‘Poppy Fields near Argenteuil’, by Claude Monet (photo courtesy of http://www.pixabay.com).

Welcome to the second post in my #ArtKnowItAll series. For those of you who are new to my blog, this is basically a series where I post about a different art movement on the first Monday of each month, along with some of my own artwork that was inspired by said-movement. After last month’s #Popart post, I decided to travel back in time to the 1860s, where the radical artists of Paris founded Impressionism.

What is Impressionism?

Often seen as the first ‘modern’ movement in painting, Impressionism developed in 19th century Paris, later spreading throughout Europe and the United States. Much like Pop artists did a hundred years later, Impressionists challenged traditional rules of academic painting, seeking to capture the momentary impression that objects and nature made on the naked eye.
  • The first characteristic that set Impressionism apart from conventional European art was that the focus was taken away from realistic depictions of scenery. Instead, artists tried to capture human perception and reflect the optical effects of light and colour in their canvases, particularly at twilight and dawn.
  • Impressionism was all about personal response to scene, a fleeting impression of a moment in time. To truly experience this, many Impressionists left their studios to paint ‘en plein air’ on the crowded streets of Paris and in the sunny french country side.
  • Impressionist work can be easily recognised by the looser, detached brushtrokes and pure, vibrant colours. Traditional linear perspective was abandoned, while unusual angles and open composition were incorporated into the artwork.


Three Key Impressionist Artists
  • painter-62934_640

    Claude Monet

    Claude Monet (1840 – 1926) was one of the founders of Impressionism. During the late 1860s, his artwork was rejected by the conservative Académie des Beaux-Arts but, refusing to accept defeat, Monet and a few like-minded artists organised the ‘Anonymous Society of Painters, sculptors and Engravers’ to display their artwork
    independently. In 1874, they held their first exhibition, where the term “Impressionism” was coined by a harsh critic who derived it from the title of Monet’s ‘Impression, soleil levant’  (Impression, Sunrise). Monet’s best known works include a series of haystacks and cathedrals painted at different times of day and his late Waterlilies.

  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was also a leading  french painter in the development of Impressionism. Also rejected by many Salon Juries, he too joined the Anonymous Society and slowly gained recognition as a true master of light, shadow and colour. His works typically featured nature scenes and large gatherings of people.
  • Berthe Morisot (1841 –1895) was the only female artist who managed to successfully integrate herself into the Impressionist circle. As the daughter of a bourgeois family (with a long history of successful painters) it was customary for her to have an art education. She exhibited regularly in the Salon de Paris, until she joined the ‘rejected’ group of Impressionists in 1974. Morisot paintings emphasised the cultural restrictions of her class and gender at the time, focusing on everyday domestic life.
Society’s reaction
During the mid-19th century, Paris was hugely renovated and transformed into a modern metropolis, including new railway stations, wide boulevards and massive apartment buildings. Times were changing and Impressionists saw this. They bravely rejected the official, government-endorsed exhibitions and were in turn rebuffed by powerful art institutions. Their new painting techniques gave their artwork an unfinished appearance which was at first hugely critised and labelled as ‘amateur’. Still, they soldiered on and eventually, Impressionism gained global recognition and respect, marking an enormous change in European painting.
My #Impressionism inspired artwork
paris impressionism 2

So I clearly I’m no Impressionist artist, but for this months #ArtKnowItAll artwork I tried to incorporate different elements of Impressionism into my painting, such as the detached brushwork, vibrant colours, bright lights and if you look closely, the eiffel tower’s silhouette in the background paying homage to the city where impressionism was born. I’m not gonna a lie, this artwork was a bit of a fail (let’s just say I grossly overestimated my artistic abilities when planning this article and did not give myself enough time), but I decided to share with you guys anyway because hey…you win some, you loose some 😉 Maybe you guys have some helpful tips you’d like to share with an aspiring artist who sucks at time management?


Let me know what art movement you want to see next in the comments below or on twitter using #ArtKnowItAll !

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  1. Pingback: #ArtKnowItAll: Cubism | Artsy Teen
  2. frederick anderson · March 14, 2016

    I love Monet’s work, and the work of the French impressionists in general, although a study of Turner (in a much earlier time) can arouse interest. Don’t forget Degas! Oh, and for a next subject? How about the pre-Raphaelites?


  3. DeRicki Johnson · March 11, 2016

    Wonderfully informative post. I love your artwork as well. So many impressionist work reminds me of viewing a scene through a rain soaked window, when, for me, an image is stripped of its anchor in the material world and is purified in the crucible of emotions, much as you described in your post. Well done!


  4. bibliogal997 · March 10, 2016

    This is one of my favorite types of art! I love the colors and how the most mundane scenes come to life with the techniques employed. 🙂


  5. Thehungryballer · March 9, 2016

    Informative and wonderful post ! Thank you 🙂
    Though, I don’t have much knowledge about arts, but I would like to know some day about perspectives…depth illusion (unsure if the terminology is right)…this aspect fascinates me !

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Free Spirit Meg · March 8, 2016

    Wow! Great article! I love your painting too! Green and blue are my favorite colors!! The yellow highlights on the trees are very nice! I like the splashes of orange throughout it as well, making it a little flashier. Keep up the awesome work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • maya · March 9, 2016

      Thanks! I’m so glad you liked it 🙂


  7. the happiest pixel · March 8, 2016

    I love impressionsm!! This picture is awesome!! 😉 I tried to paint like this when I was going to painting classes a few years ago, and it’s more difficult than it seems…
    Love, thp

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Moon in Capricorn · March 8, 2016

    I’m also an aspiring artist — self-taught — with lots of failed projects, some of which I’m posting on my art blog. I hope my mistakes can in some way inspire others and encourage people to give drawing and painting a try. I enjoyed your post today — Monet is one of my favorite artists — and look forward to more in the series. Judith

    Liked by 1 person

    • maya · March 9, 2016

      Thanks Judith! I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and good luck with your artistic dreams 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  9. matthew.jeffery · March 8, 2016

    Don’t forget Mary Cassatt as a female example of early impressionistic painting , who was a great friend of Degas and a wonderful painter!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kristinjrose · March 7, 2016

    Thank you for sharing this information – brief, but informative! (I love Morisot…)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. vickgoodwin · March 7, 2016

    This is my favorite style of painting. It has such joy and light. I loved your article.

    Liked by 1 person

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