Friday, November 5, 2010

Impressionist


The Window
Original oil painting 14x18"
by Susan Roux

Don't you just love it when you're relaxed, just blogging around, and you come across a post that makes you want to sit down and write? You know what I mean. Those posts that put some idea out there that really gets you thinking and you're compelled to explore it deeper. That's just what happened this morning as I read Paint Dance.

Maryanne wrote, " I love impressionism. I am a little sad that it has not reached the level of popularity that we currently see in styles like representational realism." It was a lovely post with a John Singer Sargent's Breakfast in the Loggia pictured.

Loving impressionism...

Now there's a common thought among many artists. Put me at the top of the list! I have adored Monet's work for years and over half of my rather large art library is publications on him and the impressionist. I've read everything I could get my hands on about Claude. So much so, that in time I came to feel like we were close friends.

How I loved the dreamy strokes, dashes of color, that came together in amazing reality! The light the Impressionist captured drew so many of us into their world. I tingle just thinking about it.

I never tried to paint like Monet though. I was a firm believer that you needed to be true to yourself and paint in a way that felt natural to you. For me, that which poured out of my soul was a colorful fairly-detailed representation with an acute appreciation for light. Painting in my own natural style worked for quite a few years.

Then it happened.

I exposed myself to more and more art and fell in love with lots of it. So many soft dreamy strokes, laid on impasto thick, I wanted to pass my finger atop it and lick it like frosting. I was so drawn to this look, I wanted to paint like that too. How many of us have started out tight and then struggled to loosen our strokes? I think its pretty common.

So for years I pushed myself in this direction, never being satisfied with my work. I'm still there struggling with it to this day. But recently something has changed in my mind. Like my eyes have been opened anew. It goes back to my original way of thinking, how you must remain true to what comes out of your soul naturally. My thoughts go deep and many questions arise. Questions about improvement and pushing yourself in the direction you admire. It can feel like its coming from within, when with all our being, you love these works you see. But what's in the mind and in the soul are different.

Its been difficult for me to understand. In the past year, I feel like I've come full circle, painting in a way that resembles my original process. Yes, those years of easel time have improved my work, but to think how far I could be with it had I only continued with what poured out naturally.

So the thoughts in my head intrigue me. I feel there is something very natural and in control that wants to come out. I'm ready to embrace the representational part of me, that for years I tried to suppress. But somewhere in there I believe there is a softness too. When I go off to the art retreat in February, I hope to explore this concept further. I feel its at the tip of my brush and is ready to pour out. I only need time to devote to it. I think, or better yet, feel I have a balance of dreamy and tight and they will come together on canvas. I've fought the representational side of myself for so long. It feels good to get to a place where I can be comfortable accepting it.

Unlike Maryanne's statement, I've felt an embrace for looser work over representational work in today's society. I do however think impressionist of today feel its work done quickly. Capture that first impression with bold strokes in a limited time. But the real Impressionist only gave the illusion of it being quickly executed. Monet returned over and over to the same spot, in search of the same light, to continue his paintings. When the light wasn't just right at the same time of day, he would begin a new painting. He returned daily and would progress the one canvas that had the same light, never working it for longer than 20 minutes. If he didn't find the same light within two weeks time, he could no longer continue because with the orbit of the earth, the light had changed visibly for him. This made it impossible for him to capture that moment in time he devoted his life to.

So why is it, I wonder, that the impressionist of today came to feel it needed to be painted within a short period of time? If today's impressionist spent the same amount of time and energy on a painting as the original Impressionists, would they rule in popularity?



Posted: The Window will be one of the paintings in Saturday's exhibition at CMMC, Lewiston, Maine from 10-4 in the main lobby. You're invited to come. If you're around, please do!

21 comments:

  1. Great post, Susan! I absolutely agree that too many painters rush their work. I think it's because they are trying to paint a snap shot instead of a painting. The patience to work on a painting like Sargent did with Carnation, Lily Lily, Rose, where he worked on it for five minutes a day for six months to get the light and color right, is unheard of today.

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  2. What a great post! Got me thinking!

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  3. Yes, good thoughts. A painter's journey to be a better painter includes taking in influences. But honest work is original with the artist rather than copying someone else.

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  4. Tout revient à dire qu'il faut rester authentique... une vie entière ne suffirait pas à chercher... une évolution se fait tout comme l'être humain évolue dans sa façon de voir les choses, de les sentir. Ses espérances de demain ne seront pas les mêmes que celles d'aujourd'hui. Ta maturité, ta patience, ton écoute personnelle rejailliront sur tes toiles... Bisous

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  5. Oh yes... and I like this painting, Susan. The gold frame is especially lovely with that beautiful purple.

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  6. Susan,

    Whether you know it or not, your lovely paintings are definitely a fulfillment of your desires. They are soft and loose enough without losing a sense of the object. There is definitely a sense of control in you work, though it reads more as serenity within a sense of purpose then as deliberate control. I get a sense of peace when I look at your work, and I suspect it is because the painting is exuding the essence of its creator.

    This was truly a lovely, thought-provoking post, Susan. I am delighted that I triggered it, though cannot take any credit for the depth of thought within your post.

    I, too, feel as though I am beginning to come full circle again. I began painting in 2006 because I was drawn to expressing my own emotions through color. Over the past years I have been ridiculed a bit for using color without much restraint. So I endeavored to tone it down by studying with artists with a more muted style. My work got darker and muddier as I tried to improve, and although I took classes with some wonderful teachers who paint gorgeous representational realism in tonalist colors, my heart was no longer singing as I tried to copy their methods.

    And so we are both realizing the truth in Shakespeare's words, "To thine own self be true."

    Thanks again for this excellent post!

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  7. Interesting post, Susan.... It is such a difficult journey to paint the way you want to paint... especially when you like so many different ways to paint!! It's fun trying all different ways isn't it?

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  8. I left a comment here, but I guess it didn't show up.... hmmmmmm...

    Anyhow after I left your blog (thinking I had posted a comment) I went on to another and here's what I found at Linda Hunt Paintings' blogspot:

    "Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures." Henry Ward Beecher

    Seems lots of us are thinking about the same thing!!!

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  9. first let me say thank you for telling me about Monet. I did not know that. I did recently read a very good book on Impressionist
    http://www.amazon.com/Painting-Light-Hidden-Techniques-Impressionists/dp/8861306098/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1289092216&sr=1-3

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  10. Oh I also want to say that I have been giving a great amount of thought to what I need to do develop a style. I keep wondering what it is I should be focusing on and why is it that I can't do that. I'm tired of being all over the bored. I feel like I'm lost as an artist.

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  11. whatever you're doing and thinking...keep doing and thinking it...because you are making the world a better place

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  12. i love it, the perspective, the colors and the lightness of movements through it all. Very nice. Helen

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  13. beautiful painting! i cause see the impressinism in it!

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  14. Very thought-provoking post. I'm a new painter, and I struggle because I want to paint lovely, loose paintings, but when I'm done, it's another very representational painting. I'll have to see where this journey takes me.

    And I didn't mean this to be all about me! I really enjoyed your post. And thanks for pointing out your friend Kevin's blog. I enjoyed it immensely.

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  15. Wow. Thank you so much for this post. Listen to what's inside you....That's my mantra for today. I'm going to read and reread this post in the next few days. Thanks so much! I love the window painting too!

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  16. Love reading your thoughts, Susan! I've never been a huge fan of impressionistic art, but I must admit that I LOVE Renoir and Van Gogh (though an appreciation for Van Gogh has come only recently through the Following the Masters blog and some of the reading I've done there. I love reading of Renoir's almost always happy thoughts on art and light. He says what I think too, about how one should react to art. Doesn't matter what is painted so much as how it touches the spirit, I guess. I don't know what I'm talking about. Just wanted to stop in for a visit quickly today. I need a break from reality for a moment and I'm hopeful I can get through my blog list today.

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  17. P. S. I love the window painting with its mullions and flowers and drapes. For some reason, I am reminded of the old black and white movie, "Heidi," with Shirley Temple. Clean and fresh, simpler times...sigh...

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  18. Wonderful interesting post Susan, Hope you've recovered from a busy weekend and not too disapointed in the sales. It a tough time at the moment but keep doing just what you're doing! You're fab!

    Róisín

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  19. Anotehr outstanding post Susan every time I feel down you come along and pick me up thank you.

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  20. hi susan i like your blog & your art

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