'Imagination will take you everywhere'
I love to immerse myself within art. Whether I’m viewing art in an exhibition or creating my own art, It never ceases to transport me into another world. One of my favourite subjects within art is landscapes, particularly depictions of exotic locations which makes me yearn for a foreign holiday; vast panoramic views of rolling Tuscan hills dotted with cypress trees, long and never-ending stretches of ocean, and a patchwork quilt of lush green fields bordered with hedges…
I have a bit of an obsession at the moment with French Impressionist landscapes (I’ve based my whole A2 Art coursework on Impressionist landscapes), as they make me reminisce about family holidays driving around spectacular European landscapes. The father of Impressionism was Monet, his beautifully loose depictions of his native France made the art critic Louis Leroy coin the phrase ‘Impressionist’ as he thought it was fitting to describe Monet’s painting (Impression, Sunrise) which he said had an ‘undefined’ and ‘unfinished’ style. After that ‘Impressionism’ was born, with many French artists joining the ‘Impressionist’ group to rebel against traditional art with its strict rules and precise lines.
I admire the way Impressionist artists decided to take matters into their own hands by gaining independence from the standards prescribed by the French Academy of Fine Arts. Instead of continuing to produce perfect carbon copy landscapes painted from sketches, they actually went out into the countryside and painted ‘en plein air’ to capture the ‘fleeting affect of nature’. In other words they used expressive and loose brushstrokes to portray the true atmospheric beauty, light and movement of the natural world. So what the Impressionists lacked in accuracy, they made up for it through the texture and colours of their landscape paintings. Of course this style of painting wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea – in fact the art world was outraged; hardly any Impressionist paintings were accepted by exhibitions and only a minority of Impressionists managed to sell their artwork. It’s a shame that these geniuses weren’t recognised or accepted during their lifetime, because now they are world-famous and their masterpieces sell for millions!
“To treat a subject for the colours and not for the subject itself, that is what distinguishes the impressionist from other painters.” Georges Riviere, 1877.
For the culmination of my art coursework I’ve produced a final piece inspired by my favourite Impressionist painters using my own photos of the French landscape from my holidays. I wanted to emulate Van Gogh’s textured and expressive brushstrokes, particularly with the swirling shapes within his skies, which not only enable the viewer to feel the atmosphere of the scene but also feel the movement of the weather. The lesser known artist, Alfred Sisley, was the main inspiration for my painting, as I love his portrayals of the quitessential French landscape which never cease to convey a fresh and hopeful atmosphere. His compositions commonly depict fields rolling into the distant horizon which is where I got the idea for emphasising the distance within my own final piece. Renoir’s Summer Landscape was also a major influence as I admire the way the painting evokes a hazy, warm, summers day. Compositionally Monet’s Poppy Field inspired the strong foreground of poppies within my painting. I used the unique idea of splitting the foreground, middle-ground and background into three seperate panels, so they work as independent landscapes, but positioned together they create a large, spectacular landscape. Here is a photo of my final piece with a few accompanying paintings which I used for inspiration. My aim for my final piece was to capture the beauty of a European landscape with the trademark expressive, textured style of the Impressionists.