Posts Tagged ‘impressionism’

What’s Your Impression? Part 2

Friday, March 1st, 2013

One of the reasons I enjoy impressionistic and expressionistic paintings so much is that they give me a glimpse into the artists’ response to the world as they experienced it. These works are basically interpretations (either more or less literal) of recognizable images, as represented through the artist’s experience. Attention is drawn to aspects that are important to the artist, while less important elements are minimized. This exaggeration and distortion may be barely discernible or may be taken to extremes. Visible brushwork is often an important factor in these paintings, as it is in “Dog Walkers” (#120522) below.

120522 Dog Walkers

The closer a painting is to the abstract end of the realism-abstraction continuum, the less “familiar” the image appears to the viewer. Some viewers find the inevitable distortions in these paintings disturbing or feel that the artist must have been unable to do it “better.” If color contrast is important to the artist, description of form may be minimized. If narrative is more important than description, scale may be intentionally distorted. To the untrained eye, all these distortions appear childish, prompting such remarks as, “A kindergartener could do better!” On the contrary, these variations away from “photographic” imagery do not necessarily indicate lack of technical understanding or ability on the part of the artist, but rather they show a willingness to restate the obvious and an ability to make use of the theoretical tools at hand to express intellectual ideas in an interpretive way.

How do you see it?

What’s Your Impression? Part 1

Friday, February 15th, 2013

With Valentine’s Day just past, many of us have been considering the many and varied loves of our lives. One of my loves is painting. Why do I paint? The simplest answer is because it’s fun and satisfying. But that still begs the question … Why?

100904 Boy and His Bike

Unlike our forebears, we don’t need to record images for posterity. Cameras do that for us. Photographic realism and tromp l’oeil are at one end of a very long continuum. At the other end of the realism-abstraction continuum is pure abstraction, which focuses on use of color, design, and non-representational images. These paintings, too, have a legitimate purpose and place in the art world. Although I appreciate and can recognize the technical ability that go into fine art at either end of the spectrum, I find that some of the mid-continuum approaches “speak” to me most clearly. And that’s the art in which I find the greatest satisfaction.

So what is my purpose every time I begin working on a new image? I’ve taken as my guiding principle the old hymn lyric by Folliott Sanford Pierpoint: “For the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies; Lord of all, to Thee I raise this, my hymn of grateful praise!”

At first glance, some of my subjects may appear mundane. But I paint the joy, the pleasure, the excitement and sense of awe I experience in the world around me—the way light shines through a petal, the play of colors in an oceanscape, the graceful flow of line in an animal, the energy and sense of freedom of a child at play. For that I usually use an interpretive, impressionistic approach, based on literal images. My viewers can’t experience exactly what I experience, but I can share with them my impressions of the experience, allowing others to share in the feelings it evoked for me. So both at heart and at the easel I consider myself an impressionist.