• Tag Archives impressionism
  • My Favorite Styles of Art

    I Love Almost All Art

    First off, I want to say that I really do love almost all art.  There are exceptions, of course.  I’m not a huge fan of Marcel Duchamp, for example, but most visual art styles I do like.  I may not like every piece in that style, as sometimes subject matter can be off putting, but I see something in almost every style that is admirable.

    Of course, I do have my favorites though.

    Post Impressionism In the Lead

    While it is difficult to nail down a specific style that is my favorite, I’d have to say that post impressionism is definitely in the lead.  I like impressionism too, but most impressionists had very soft, natural looking colors in the art, and tended to paint very nice, quaint, pretty subjects, such as children playing in a grassy field, or women holding flowers. While they used brighter colors than those before them, they used very normal looking colors, impressionism still clung to many constraints of realism, just with a softer look.  Nothing wrong with that, and it is very nice looking, but it doesn’t quite grab me the way the brighter and often arbitrary colors and bold brush strokes of the post impressionists did.

    Of course, one of the most famous post impressionists was Van Gogh, and as anyone who reads this blog often knows, Van Gogh is my favorite painter of all time.

    If I made a list of my favorite styles in order of most favorite to least, I think it would go like this.

    1. Post impressionism, an art movement that took place after the last impressionist exhibit and until the birth of Fauvism.  Roughly from around 1886 to around 1905.  Expressionism overlapped Post impressionism, and many works such as Van Gogh’s Starry Night, are considered both Post impressionistic and expressionists.

    Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    Vincent Van Gogh was one of the leaders of the post impressionist movement. Other leaders of this movement were Paul Cézanne, Georges Seurat, and Paul Gauguin.

    2. Fauvism.  Fauvism is what followed post impressionism, and some see it as a specific kind of post impressionism.  Brighter colors, painterly brush strokes, even more deviation from realism and into abstraction.  Expressionism also overlapped into this movement, and many works of the fauvists are also considered to be expressionist.

    André Derain, is one of favorite Fauvists, this is his painting "Charing Cross Bridge"
    André Derain, is one of my favorite Fauvists, this is his painting “Charing Cross Bridge”.

    After the Fauvists, I guess my favorites would go back in time a bit to the impressionists, then leap forward again to the surrealists, abstract expressionists and cubists.  But I won’t get into all of that, I’ve listed here my top two favorite styles, and with that I’ll sign off.  I’m sure if you browse through my work, you’ll see the influence of these art styles in my use of bright colors, my willingness to sometimes depart from realism, my imaginative fantasy based work, and my use of art to express feeling.

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    Do you have a favorite style of art? If so, comment and let me know what it is.

  • Monday Muse- Monet’s Venice by Twilight

    Claude Monet, Saint-Georges majeur au crépuscule
    Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    This week’s Monday Muse is Venice by Twilight, by Claude Monet.

    Monet was among the leaders of the art movement known as impressionism.  This art movement used visible brush strokes, paint was applied quickly, from life, usually outdoors, or as artist’s like to say, “En Plein Air”.  As a movement, impressionism emphasized fleeting moments, trying to quickly and accurately capture the effects of light before it changed.

    Impressionists often painted with a loose style, from a distance, their work would look very realistic and accurate, however up close, edges lost their definition and sharpness as one realized that the painting was made from many bold, visible brush strokes.

    The idea was to paint what the first impression on the eyes were, before a recognizable object could be made out.  Monet himself described it this way,  ”When you go out to paint, try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives you your own naïve impression of the scene before you”.

    Monet painted for years, and many of his works show much detail even though they are rendered in the style of impressionism. However, this particular painting does not show a lot of detail.  The brush strokes are larger, the image appears “fuzzier”, the colors are glorious as the deep blue is complemented so beautifully with the bright yellows and oranges.  The looser “feel” to this painting is most likely due to the fact that by then, (sometime between 1908-1912) Monet was suffering from cataracts, so what he actually saw, probably looked very much like what he displayed on his canvas.

    To me, it is quite inspiring to think that not only did his failing eyesight not hinder his artistic pursuit, but very well may have enhanced the results he achieved.  His failing vision gave him a unique view, which he shared with others.

    Monet's failing eyesight didn't hinder his artistic pursuits, it gave him a unique view... Click To Tweet
    There are at least two versions of this painting done by Monet, both are commonly known as Venice by Twilight, though the official title is “Saint-Georges majeur au crépuscule”.  Since both were painting by Monet, and both are considered equally valid, I’ve shown both in this post.


    Claude Monet - Twilight, Venice
    Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    On the left side of the canvas you see the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, with its bell tower silhouetted against the sunset.  San Giorgio Maggiore is a very small island, and the church takes up a large portion of it.  On the right you can faintly make out the domes of the della Salute, and the entrance of the Grand Canal.

    Here is a photograph which shows the Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, but from a slightly different vantage point than Monet used for his painting.

    Isola di s giorgio maggiore pano
    This photo separates the campanile and dome of San Giorgio Maggiore, as it is taken from nearer the Grand Canal than the place(s) where Monet’s dusk paintings were observed. By Mfield, Matthew Field, http://www.photography.mattfield.com (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
     For those unfamiliar with the geography of Venice, here is a map of Venice showing the location of the island in the Venetian lagoon, and the location of the Venetian lagoon in relation to the rest of Italy.

    The Venetian lagoon, I altered the image by adding the red location indicators and text. Image by NASA for the image, user:NordNordWest for the map [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
    The Venetian lagoon, I altered the image by adding the red location indicators and text. Attribution: NASA for the image, user:NordNordWest for the map [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Monday Muse #2, Van Gogh’s Starry Night

    In many ways this painting should have been my first Monday Muse, because it is by far higher on my list of favorite paintings than last week’s painting.

    The only reason I listed Monet’s painting first was primarily because of my own struggle painting clouds. I took comfort in the fact that Monet’s clouds were not strikingly realistic either, and yet his painting was still wonderful and breathtaking.  In other words, Monet’s painting inspired me because I saw what I would perceive as a weakness in my own work in his, and saw that despite that “weakness” his painting was still rightly considered great art.

    Here, in Van Gogh’s work however, I am not seeing some weakness that encourages me that my own weakness is acceptable, rather I am seeing a mastery to aspire to.

    VanGogh-starry night
    Vincent van Gogh [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    In this, and many other of his paintings,  Van Gogh, shows a style that none before him had undertaken.  His brushstrokes, laid side by side, are somewhat reminiscent of the work of the Impressionists like Monet, Manet, and Renoir, but they are thicker, longer, bolder strokes, and he uses them without the strict adherence to realistic portrayal of the properties of light that the Impressionists emphasized.

    Claude Monet, 1873, Camille Monet on a Bench, oil on canvas, 60.6 x 80.3 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
    By Claude Monet (Metropolitan Museum of Art) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons The Impressionists used smaller, more delicate brush strokes, and emphasized the effects of light and its transient nature.

    His thicker, bolder brushstrokes almost mimic the work of Mosaic artists of ancient Rome and Greece, yet without the adherence to the themes of classicism those artists followed, and without the restraints imposed by the shapes of the stones.

    Dionysos Mosaic
    A Greek Mosaic, Mosaic artists used stones, each one a solid color, to make up images, similar to how Van Gogh used bold brush strokes of solid color, also similar to how Impressionism used delicate brush strokes of solid color, and later pointillism used dots of color, but Mosaic artist stayed with classical themes.

    His work somewhat resembles pointillism, such as that done by Georges Seurat and Paul Signac, however,  yet again Van Gogh’s strokes are bolder, thicker, and his paintings seem to have more depth than the works of the pointillists.

    Georges Seurat 031
    Georges Seurat [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Pointillism used thousands of tiny dots to form a picture.

    Van Gogh was undoubtedly influenced all these artists, and many others as well, and yet unlike any of them, he introduced the idea of expressionism in his art.  He didn’t just depict what he saw, but what he felt, and thought.

    Van Gogh predated the expressionists, and his art doesn’t quite fit neatly into that definition either, but rather his art stands, almost as a bridge between impressionism and expressionism, influenced by, but not adhering to the first, and being a harbinger foretelling the development of the second.  Art Historians have labeled him a post impressionist, which I suppose fits, since his work does seem to be a bridge between impressionism and more modern art forms such as abstract expressionism.

    The Scream
    Edvard Munch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. This painting by Edvard Munch is an example of expressionism, an art movement that emphasized expression of feeling rather than accuracy of visual elements. You can see how Van Gogh’s work led to, and heavily influenced the expressionists who came after Van Gogh.

    In this particular painting (Starry Night), Van Gogh is looking out the window of his room at a mental asylum, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, where Vincent had voluntarily admitted himself after cutting off a small piece of his own ear (contrary to popular myth, he did not cut off his entire ear, but rather a very small piece of the ear lobe, probably doing less harm to himself than many do through popular forms of body-art today). At any rate, he had admitted himself to the asylum, knowing that his depression was getting the better of him.

    While at the asylum Vincent painted a great many paintings, the Starry Night being among the most famous.  He painted it based on the view out of his window, along with no fewer than twenty other drawings, paintings, and studies, all variations on that view.  Some of those works showed the scene in the day, some were pencil sketches almost identical to Starry Night.

    Interestingly, Van Gogh regarded this, perhaps his most famous painting, as a failure.  He referred to it in a letter to Emile Bernard this way, “When Gauguin was in Arles, I once or twice allowed myself to be led astray into abstraction, as you know. . . . But that was delusion, dear friend, and one soon comes up against a brick wall. . . . And yet, once again I allowed myself to be led astray into reaching for stars that are too big—another failure—and I have had my fill of that.”

    It seems that later, he came around to appreciating abstracted style a little more though, because he later wrote about it (in reference to the Starry Night) to his brother Theo, “Despite what you say in your previous letter, that the search for style often harms other qualities, the fact is that I feel myself greatly driven to seek style, if you like, but I mean by that a more manly and more deliberate drawing. If that will make me more like Bernard or Gauguin, I can’t do anything about it. But am inclined to believe that in the long run you’d get used to it.”  Then at other times he again expressed dissatisfaction with the painting, so it seems he was somewhat ambivalent in his feelings about it.

    Regardless of whether he loved this painting, or continued to think of as a failure, the fact remains that this stylized sky is one of his greatest works. Perhaps, his struggle to accept this painting isn’t so hard to understand though. Perhaps, as he looked at the beauty of God’s creation, as he looked on the vastness and grandeur of the universe, and tried to depict it with mere paint and canvas, he simply felt discouraged by the impossibility of the task.

    I think that while his depiction no doubt falls short in comparison to the real majesty of the heavens, his swirling brushstrokes at least give a nod to their glory, and that is the best that any artist can ever hope to do.

  • Monday Muse #1 View of Vetheuil in Summer, by Monet

    I’ve decided that each Monday I should post about a “Muse”.  For my purposes a Muse can be any thing or person that brings me inspiration.

    Today’s Muse is this painting, by Claude Monet:

    Monet - Ansicht von Vetheuil im Sommer
    Claude Monet [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
    Why did I pick this painting as my Monday Muse?

    Well, as my readers know, I find it very difficult to be satisfied with my renderings of clouds.  I have produced a few paintings where I was genuinely satisfied with the clouds.  However, those paintings are the exception, and I certainly seem unable to reproduce the results at will.  Its more a matter of “luck” than skill when I produce a sky I am truly happy with.  Sometimes grueling hard work gives me results that I find acceptable, but not really pleasing.  Well today, I was doing something I frequently do, browsing paintings online.  I started looking closely at many of the impressionists’ work, particularly their skies.  What I was seeing was encouraging to me.  These paintings are beautiful, but if I isolate the sky like this:

    Monet_-_Ansicht_von_Vetheuil_im_Sommer (2)

    I see brush strokes of blue, white, some yellow, a little that is kind of dirty yellow-gray…  What I don’t see is photograph-like realistic clouds.

    In fact, the closer you look, the less cloud like they become:
    Monet_-_Ansicht_von_Vetheuil_im_Sommer (3)

    Monet_-_Ansicht_von_Vetheuil_im_Sommer (4)


    To me this is a wonderful encouragement, because the overall picture is amazing, even the sky is amazing.  No person knowledgeable about art would say that Monet didn’t know how to paint.  Yet when I look at the sky closely I realize that if I had done it myself, I would not have been satisfied.  It is showing me that perhaps I need to step back and look at my paintings from further back.  It’s okay for them to not look like photographs.  The are PAINTINGS.  I am my own worst critic of course, because when i saw this, at first I wasn’t thinking anything negative, I was admiring the beauty of the painting.  The reason I looked closer at the sky was to see how he did it, and that’s when I realized that I would not have liked it if I did it, but I loved it when Monet did it.

    Now does that mean that I will stop trying to improve my skies?  No.  It does mean though that I can stop stressing every time I fail to make it look exactly like what I see.  I don’t necessarily have overwork my sky to the point of frustration, it is OKAY to put in brushstrokes that give the impression of clouds, especially when the sky isn’t the central point of the painting, but merely a backdrop for the rest.

    I really don’t know why I didn’t grasp this concept before, after all, the artists I admire most are Impressionists and Post-Impressionists, neither of which are particularly preoccupied with Photorealism in their paintings.  In fact, one of my frustrations with other aspects of paintings is that I find it difficult to loosen up enough, and yet with clouds, I was refusing to loosen up.  I was trying so much to control every aspect and get the EXACT image held in my mind.

  • Teaching a SLOW Student!

    Have you ever tried to teach anyone something?  It can be difficult!  Its even more difficult if the student you are teaching is just NOT getting it, now imagine you are doing all that, WHILE you are trying to teach something you don’t know!

    That is the struggle of the self taught artist, trial, and error, and more error.

    Lots of error.  I am trying to get the sky in a painting just right, that is how I am seeing it in my mind, it is taking a lot of error.

    Here are some of my practice sheets where I practiced different techniques to try to get the results I wanted:

    Real quality art there, right?

    But its all part of learning without a teacher.

    Eventually I moved back onto my canvas, and its not perfect yet, but I feel like I know what needs happen now, its just that the paint I already put down needs to dry before I can do more, otherwise my colors will mix and I will end up with a green sky.  I also keep reminding myself that it won’t just be a sky, there will be land and a bridge, and water, the sky will end up being only a backdrop for everything else.  I keep telling myself that, but I want to get the sky perfect anyway. It is getting close to what I see in my head, and I think I’ll be able to bring it around to that point in t the next painting session.

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for Prints of all my Paintings.

    My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!

  • Finally Decent Photos!

    Way back LAST YEAR or a week and half ago, however you look at it, I posted a cellphone photo of my painting, “Inlets to Illusion” and promised that I would soon have a quality photo of it to share.  Well, my setup for photographing my paintings is not ideal, I have to rely on outdoor weather to be just right, namely, it must be overcast over the entire sky, but not raining, not windy, etc.  So, I’ve been biding my time, waiting, and yesterday the weather was perfect for photography of fine art!

    So finally I get to share with you not only my “Inlets to Illusion”, but also the painting that I finished on Friday and posted cellphone photos of on Saturday.

    First things first, here is “Inlets to Illusion”, if you’d like to see it bigger, which I highly recommend to fully appreciate the optical art qualities, click on it, it will take you the website where I sell prints of my fine art paintings, but there is no obligation to buy just because you looked!

    Photography Prints

    And now, for the impressionist and intuitive “No-Brush Painting” which I ended up titling “Sky Ablaze”.

    Art Prints

    So that’s all for today, Happy Sunday!

    Thank you for reading! If you liked what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for Prints of all my Paintings.

    My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!

  • A Brushless Painting

    Tonight,  I began a painting.  I was feeling like I wanted a break from tight details like my last painting consisted of, I wanted to do something loose and free.  So I grabbed a canvas and my paints, and a couple of pieces of sponge, and I began to randomly paint a background. I didn’t really have a plan for where it was going at this point, so I took some time to just look at it and wait for it to “suggest” something.  I got several ideas, depending on which way I oriented the canvas.

    Finally something came to mind, and I decided that I wanted to continue working without brushes, I decided that the entire painting, with the exception my signature when I was finished, would be finished without brushes, using only sponges, palette knives, and fingers.
    Here is the painting nearly finished. 
    There were some dark marks left in the upper right hand corner from when I painted the background with no idea what the painting would be, they looked out of place in the sky. So when I went to put the grasses int the foreground, I decided to also put in some tree branches up in that corner, and here is the finished product.  The only place a paint brush was used was for my signature.  The only thing remaining  to be done is to paint the bottom of the canvas black, after the painting dries enough to be turned over.
    The colors aren’t quite true in this phone photo, but a better photo will be coming soon.
    So, all in all it was a productive night!

    Thank you for reading! If you like what you see, please consider following this blog with Google Friend connect, or follow me on Google+, or if you prefer, you can follow by email and get notified each time the blog is updated. See the right hand column to follow in any of these ways! I welcome your suggestions on how to make this blog more interesting to you!

    Fine Art America is the place to go for Prints of all my Paintings.

    My etsy shop is the place to go to buy my originals and request commissioned work. A few select prints are available here as well!