Sunday, 24 October 2010

My Impressionist Painting Lacks Expression

The artist striving to paint impressionist style may agonise over every brush mark, robbing the painting of expression and defeating the object of painting Impressionist. How can the artist create expressive paintings?

How to Paint Impressionism

Autumn Impressionism
Rachel Shirley
Before tackling the problems of the fastidious artist striving to produce an expressive oil painting, the following practices may be identified.
  • Sitting too close to the painting, causing each brush mark to appear to have more significance than it actually has.
  • Using fine sable brushes throughout the painting session.
  • Sitting in one position during the entire painting session or not viewing the painting in any other way.
  • Painting onto a white support, causing pale colours to appear dark by comparison and resulting in a pale painting.
  • Over-mixing the colours until they are completely even.
  • Not using vibrant colours or tempering bright colours with browns and greys.
  • Overworking the painting until it looses life.
How to Paint Impressionist Style

When striving to emulate the Impressionists, the following painting practices may be followed.
  • Use only hog brushes no smaller than no.6, to force the artist to use economy with brush marks and avoid linear detail.
  • Use every tonal value from pale to very dark within the painting. Working on a toned ground, such as grey or neutral colour, will give the true tonal value of each colour.
  • Half close the eyes to simplify the view and cut out irrelevant detail
  • Don’t use black to darken colours but the opposing colour. Red for instance, can be used to darken green.
  • Don’t over-mix colours. Allow colour streaks to remain on the brush on application.
  • Get up and view the painting from a distance. Turn it upside down or through a reflection to reboot the brain on what is vital about the painting and what is irrelevant.
  • I believe every painting is allocated a limited number of brush marks before it becomes overworked. Make every brushstroke count. Allow imperfections to remain within the brushstrokes, and as soon as the artist starts to “fuss” over the painting, stop.
Vibrant Colours in Painting

Don’t be afraid to use colours neat from the tube. Juxtaposing them against neutral colours will make them appear more vibrant rather than cheap. Monet’s sunsets, for instance, contained lots of neutrals which provided the stage for the bright colours. In my Youtube clip below, I used bright violets and blues on the lavender fields. Notice the contrast against the yellows and pinks in the background.

How to Make a Painting Shimmer

To create focal points in colour, place contrasting colours against one another. Sunlight and shadow, for instance contains warm and cool colours; shadows often contain blues and violets, and sunlight, creams, ochres and oranges. Furthermore, working onto a bright coloured ground will create contrast with the colours laid on top. To make the painting appear to shimmer, as was the case with some of the Post Impressionist paintings, allow some of the ground to show through in places.

External Links on Painting Impressionist Style


Rachina said...

This would've been helpful two days ago. :) I just found your blog when looking for solutions for red hair, (they works brilliantly by the way) and while it turned out alright, for one of my first impressionist peices, these tips would've made it much better. I can't wait to do more paintings with this information.

Rachel said...

So pleassed to hear my painting tips have been helpful!