by Nina Baldwin

cloud catcher*dream maker*artist

"Art touches the soul...art is communication...it reaches out from the canvas and passes through the eyes of the viewer right into his heart where it can leave an imprint of beauty that can make the spirit sing."
Nina Baldwin ...

Welcome to Artscapes!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

IMPRESSIONISM - a Time of Transition for more than just Art

1860 to 1870...the time of Monet, Degas, Cezanne, Renoir...Art was not the only thing transitioning in France at this time. Great changes were taking place in Paris, for instance, with the razing of the narrow cobblestoned streets which were replaced with grand boulevards lined with shops and cafes..."light-filled sunny promenades" where the elite could stroll, lunching and enjoying some of the finer things in life.
Society was changing. Life no longer centered around agriculture (a favorite subject matter for the realist painters in Paris). Modern city life brought with it cafes, racetracks, parks, concerts, balls, the opera and the ballet. It also brought grand changes in the appearance of the city...on the outside...but behind the great facade of opulence lay the "underworld", the world of the common folk who serviced the sophisticates of the Second Empire...
This is what Manet and Degas painted...not the traditional historical scenes, or scenes on the farm that the realist artists painted...they wanted to paint life...reality...everyday people living their ordinary lives...landscapes and still lifes also, both unacceptable according to the status quo. Monet and the other young artists were greatly influenced by this.
While preference for subject matter was changing, artists were finding new techniques more suited to their tastes. Glazes of transparent paints were in less favor, while "loading" the canvas with more opaque, brighter paints became the favorite of the Impressionists. Paints were going through their own evolution as more and more artists found the convenience of the first tin tubes of paint easily usable for plein aire painting. Previously, pigments had to be crushed, ground to a fine powder, then mixed with linseed oil and perhaps wax, then stored in an animal bladder. The colors provided in the tube paints were brighter more "modern" shades than the traditional more somber colors...thus the beautiful, vibrating colors of Monet's garden and the haystacks...
...to be continued...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

MONET and IMPRESSIONISM

I know that I invited you to come along with me on this journey in the last post...I guess it would be good if I actually showed up!! ahh, life!! is anyone else busy??!!!

My intention is not to do a book report, but only to gleen from different sources snipets of observations and impressions about Impressionism and its artists...

I am enjoying reading a little from "Techniques of the Impressionists" by Anthea Callen...I have stopped to take in the title page which has a close up of a painting by Monet. First impressions....so much movement in the water, I am guessing from the technique Monet employed in painting it...a background of medium blue with what appears to be a wet on wet addition of different colors of blue, green, yellow and an off-white, producing a "glistening" of sunlight effect on the water. He even painted over the tops of the trees with this white effect giving the appearance of water sparkling through the tree branches...

I love the passion and freedom displayed in the way Monet dragged colors across the foreground...terra cotta, greens, purple, white...He must have been working very quickly...gestural, painterly strokes of colors...creating shadows, texture and highlights. These energetic flashes of pigment communicate roughly the time of day and the atmospheric conditions among other things.

Our own eyes see like this...they flit around the subject matter, focusing at certain areas taking in pieces of the whole...and our brains do the rest. They fill in what's not there...they connect the pieces to make a whole. Some artists train very hard to be able to take in the subject matter more quickly...but it takes a lot of time to develop this skill...

more next time...