Painting the Impressionist Landscape: Lessons in Interpreting Light and Color
by Lois Griffel
Impressionism--its techniques as well as its practitioners, past and present--continues to excite the passion of artists and art enthusiasts alike. ... Show synopsis Impressionism--its techniques as well as its practitioners, past and present--continues to excite the passion of artists and art enthusiasts alike. From the plein-air landscapes first painted near the forests of Barbizon outside Paris, through the fields of Giverny that Monet immortalized, to the art of American expatriates such as John Singer Sargent and the European-trained American nativists like William Merritt Chase, the influence of impressionism on American art has had a long and distinguished history. Through artistic principles developed by Charles Hawthorne, an influential American impressionist and educator who studied with Chase and founded The Cape Cod School of Art, the rich legacy of the impressionist tradition was passed on to several generations of twentieth-century American artists. In Painting the Impressionist Landscape, Lois Griffel, the current director of The Cape Cod School of Art and an accomplished artist in her own right, explores and illustrates Hawthorne's philosophy and theories about color and light, enabling artists at every level of ability and experience to apply his insights to their own work. The first part of the book, "Fundamentals of Color and Light," elaborates on the circumstances and individuals that contributed to the development of impressionism. The author then outlines the progression of the study of color and light that is covered in detail later in the book, from simple block studies--the most effective way to learn to use pure color to express the effects and quality of light--through the more complex rounded forms in still lifes and portraits, to the most challenging forms intrinsic to landscape. Griffel then discusses the essentials of color--its terms, the impressionist palette, and color mixing--as well as how established color theory expresses and influences the impressionist approach. The second part of the book, "Impressionism in Practice," takes readers through a series of explorations that guides them toward a mastery of the impressionist landscape. Griffel begins by itemizing the materials that artists need to prepare for painting outdoors and describing how the light of the setting affects color within the context of a composition. The detailed chapters on the studies--from sunny day and cloudy day blocks, to still lifes and portraits, culminating in landscapes--are all structured to lead readers through each step, enabling them first to evaluate, then eventually realize in their own painting, Hawthorne's enlightening perceptions about capturing the radiance of nature's light in art. Beautifully illustrated with the art of the author, her colleagues at the artist's colony in Provincetown, and selections by Monet, Sargent, and Hawthorne himself, Painting the Impressionist Landscape is a lively and informative guide to expressing light as color in art.