Impressions

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“Landscape is nothing but an impression, and an instantaneous one, hence this label that was given us… because of me. I had sent a thing done in Le Havre, from my window, sun in the mist and a few masts of boats sticking up in the foreground. … They asked me for a title for the catalogue, it couldn’t really be taken for a view of Le Havre, and I said: ‘Put Impression.’” -Claude Monet

This past week we dived into the world of impressionism! We took a look at the radical roots of modernism and reached the end of our journey backwards through time. We painted with quick and visible brush strokes and tried to capture our impressions! Some of our artists included Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, and Camille Pissarro. But as was true every week we didn’t forget the ladies: Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Eva Gonzalès, and Marie Bracquemond. By the end of the week we were able to answer the question: Who and what was Impressionism?

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On our first day of Impressionism we read the following article and then students wrote their own definition of Impressionism. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/imml/hd_imml.htm I encouraged students to take a good look at all of the photos accompanying the article. We then read the following article and then students found an example of modern art they thought was “radical” and shared it with the class. They also posted a link to their radical art for their fellow classmates to reference later.  http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2007/apr/20/theradicalartoftheimpress

For our first mini project students tried to capture the style of the impressionist. They took a piece of paper 7”x11” and created a landscape based on a photograph of their favorite place. (This was a photograph they had taken, and were assigned as homework to bring in) Just like the expressionists the week before, they let their mood and feelings associated with this place guide their brush strokes. However, the impressionist did not use vivid or exaggerated colors like the expressionists and fauvists. They would instead, use color to try and capture the specific time of day, and amount of like they were experiencing in that moment. So students were asked to keep this in mind while making their color choices. As a class we all took a look at the many ways in which Monet painting the exact same cathedral : https://www.google.com/search?q=monet+cathedral&espv=2&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=3f67U86KFqvQsQTF8IDYDA&ved=0CBwQsAQ&biw=1092&bih=679 , and thought about how color can say a lot about the time of day. At the end of class we left 10 minutes to clean up and five for a short critique. Students asked their fellow classmates if they could tell what time of day it is in their painting.

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On our second day we read the following article about Plein Air painting: http://www.telluridepleinair.com/what-plein-air . Then, for the second mini project each student received an 8”x10” canvas and some conveniently tubed paint (i mentioned that paint before the impressionists time hadn’t always been so conveniently tubed) and brought it with us outside! Bringing out water for their brushes was the only real challenge. Students then painted the Hamilton house (a historic part of our gorgeous campus at Stone Ridge) and the surrounding foliage from any angle they liked. They were painting “en plein air.” At the end of class we left 10 minutes to clean up and five for a short critique. Students asked their fellow classmates what they thought were their paintings strengths and weaknesses.

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For our final project students had two choices. They could either create a second Plein Air painting outside, a diptych if they wanted, or they could return to painting from a photograph (that they had taken themselves) inside, in the air conditioning. This final painting’s aim was to demonstrate their understanding of the impressionist’s style and approach to painting. We left 10 minutes to clean up and ten for a longer critique. Students asked their fellow classmates what thought were their painting’s strengths and weaknesses. On day four they had a chance to make any improvements they felt necessary to their paintings. (Our week was shortened due to me having to attend a yearbook workshop in Gettysburg Maryland)

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