The term “Impressionism” comes from the title of Claude Monet’s painting Impression, soleil levant (Interpreted: Impression, Sunrise. The painting was exhibited in 1874, and changed the world for artists. Monet had painted the painting before nature outside of the studio and in the open air. Prior to this, paintings were usually produced in the artists studio. Of course, artists sketched outdoors; however, their sketches were used for references to the highly realistic paintings they did inside.
As usual when a new art movement is introduced, the impressionists were received with a storm of protests. Art connoisseurs, as well as, art lovers and buyers were accustomed to seeing paintings with the tiniest details defined. They felt the impressionists were merely doing color sketches. Roughly 150 years later we are used to allowing our eyes see the details that are not depicted, just as we do in nature. Most good impressionists can give enough details (just as we see nature) to represent what actually exists.
Many of the artist of today prefer the plein-air method of painting landscape. They love to capture the colors of natural light falling on the various hues of nature. Most will agree that the fresh air they breath as they paint is so refreshing that the exaltation helps create the mood of their paintings.
The practice of open-air painting appeals, mostly, to the artist’s desire for a direct appeal to nature. The impressionists to this day, just as it was in the beginning of the movement, insist that artist should concentrate on capturing the color intensity of the visual world before their eyes.
Technological advances played a large part in the impressionist movement. Prior to the nineteenth century, artists had been obliged to mix their own pigments and oils in small batches that had to be used quickly before they dried up. The availability of zinc paint tubes transformed their working methods. The portability of new, ready made colors were much more affordable and easy to use. The new manufactured pigments enabled artist to capture the intensity of color created by strong sunlight.
Today, literally thousands of artist are impressionists, and many of them paint in the plein-air method (open air technique). Art Center Information’s featured Artist of the Month, Texas artist, Lynn Burton, likes to remind us that although he paints all different genres, he loves to “Get up early in the morning before the sun comes up, and go out to the farms and country, and with brush, paint, and canvas, have a great time.” “Gettin’ loose,” he likes to call it. “Don’t know how many hundreds of times over the last 50 years of painting I’ve done this,” he continues.
One of our favorite plein-air paintings of Lynn’s is below. If you want to search Lynn’s latest paintings, you can go to
Be sure to type his name in the search section.
You can also get to his page by clicking the picture at the bottom.
Also, feel free to browse all the galleries above.
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