Tag Archives: french impressionism

An impression of Impressionism?

I got a lovely surprise this winter in the form of a package with a large slab of chrysocolla from Dusty, an amazing wire worker. (You’ve seen her coral and geode pieces on here before.) The colors in it reminded me of some of Monet’s large and more abstract water lily paintings at Musee de l’Orangerie  (take the interactive tour) so I wanted this to be a nod to those. The lily pad is part of the frame, I made that part first then guestimated around it. The stem came out a bit short, something I’ll keep in mind for next time. I used silver, gold and brass coated copper to try to catch the opulence and depth of an old frame.

What’s really odd is that from a distance the colors blend into a really proper gold color, and the bronze lily pad didn’t stand out enough but didn’t match either, so I tried to wrap it to blend in a bit more. And added a dragonfly charm with sheer pale green nail polish spangled wings. I’d gladly take any tips/ideas for balancing the size/shape/way to enhance the water lily effect!

What’s kind of funny to me is that so much of Impressionism is in capturing light using adjacent colors, and that’s what I had so much trouble with in this piece.

I made color samples by wrapping the colors of fine wire I was contemplating using around thicker wire to try to get a feel for how they would look as a frame. It helped me rule out some combinations, but didn’t really prepare me for the final effect.

I’m still trying to figure out light and color I guess.


Filed under Art, Crafts

The Impression that I get

Impressionism is almost a cliché by now- it’s on address books and calendars and dorm room walls.

But I still find it a great inspiration. I feel like I grew up with the French Impressionists. My mother was a fan, and I read Cristin Bjork’s Linnea in Monet’s Garden as a little girl.

Like the girl in the book, I had decided to test this up close dots and splotches and far away sunlit garden effect in person, moving closer and further to watch the magic happen. (Rather to the concern of the security guards and my parents!)

Impressionism as a movement dates from the late 19th century. It was a snide term tossed out in a review of a group show upon seeing Claude Monet’s Impression, Sunrise. (A painting that is famous for giving the movement it’s name, but not so much for being an excellent example of its intent…)

Impression, Sunrise

Impression, Sunrise

Though they’re considered establishment today, in their day the Impressionists were (admittedly briefly) the radicals of the art world. They ignored centuries of received wisdom about color and composition, and the value of detail and precision. Instead they focused on capturing light, finding a way to show the passage of time in the feel of the lighting. They emphasized brush strokes, and by playing with the effects of adjacent colors seen from a distance.

The French Impressionists also tended to take a more human view of the world. Their landscapes had ordinary people, bathers on the coast or people eating lunch. Monet’s famous flowers were from his garden, not plucked out of nature untamed.

They used the world around them, and its people, as their subjects.

Many also took advantage of modern technology, not looking towards an idealized past, but taking in the world around them.

Gritty and dirty and terribly useful, train stations could serve both as models and as the transport that allowed city living artists to get to the countryside in a timely fashion for painting in the open air. Progress in chemistry created new paints which allowed for new shades, and much more affordable variants of the classic ones.


Filed under Art, Historical Facts and Trivia