6 comments


  • Jerry, again, a wonderful, thought provoking article, thank you!

    I happened to learn another branch of impressionism, with methods that differ a bit from yours. And from Monet’s. So I read what you write with great interest.

    I’ve seen that youtube clip before, and was watching for how Monet looked. Clearly, he cast only quick glances at his pond, but at the same time, he didn’t glue his eyes to the canvas (don’t take that literally…). It seemed to me that he watched canvas and scene about 50-50, if one does not count the time he looked at his palette. Roughly.

    That way, he kept his vision fresh, and saw the light as it was, without having colours greyed out by staring into them. At least, that is what I believe.

    From my readings, it is clear that the Impressionists worked with the scientists of that day, taking in info on how light and the eye works, and applying that knowledge practically in their paintings.

    In the film, we see the old Monet, who has perfected his way of painting. His technique has become intuitive for him, and he has reached that point by practicing “scales” pertaining to his visual “instrument”.

    I believe that it is only when one masters the technique and knowledge that one can be a virtuoso, relax, and really play (have fun), without having to stop to figure things out.

    I think he does think and evaluate the marks, but it is a very rapid and unconscious process, and it is related to what he really and actually see. I don’t think he applies formulas, or colour schemes, or invent or imagine stuff — I think he really paints what he sees, weaving strokes of colour into a tapestry of an impression of vibrant light, where the whole experience of the wind, the buzzing bees, and the scents are present in his paintings.

    Oh, and himself, his essence of being and perceiving.

    Looking forward to the other parts of this!

    August 28, 2012
    • Jerry Fresia

      Thanks. I believe that while there were an array of scientific theories developing during the early period of the Impressionists, their approach was based on a critique of the use of such theories (the Romantic critique of a mechanistic Enlightenment reasoning that we have inherited). Monet, for example, called such theories “a horror.” It’s like making love, for example. There may be lots of theories out there but it would behoove the practitioner to forget such things while engaged in the activity.

      September 04, 2012
  • Paula

    You can be a hard pill to swallow sometimes, Jerry but some of the things you’ve tried to teach us on the subject of art have rung true for me and I’m now trying to teach others” the way”. I always keep your lessons in mind. I’ve stopped painting from photographs. I get what you’re saying about being in the here and now and not trying to finish the painting up later in the studio and producing a ‘dead’ painting. I’m glad now that I had you as a teacher.

    September 16, 2012
    • Jerry Fresia

      Hi Paula. Nice to hear from you. Well, it always takes time and reflection to “hear” competing ideas. Glad you are sticking with it.
      “Hard pill to swallow”? That’s a good one. I’m never sure on how to present the material. Sometimes it’s useful to rattle the cages. Doesn’t work for everyone but there is no easy way to get through. I can remember my teacher walking around mumbling, “If I can reach them mentally….” Always a huge challenge. Great that you don’t paint from photos now; that alone – the experience of working from something that vibrates and which is alive ought to make the case better than I ever could. Cheers!

      September 16, 2012
  • To be sure, the Post-Impressionists were still quite literal in their work: when you look at the work of Cézanne or Gauguin or van Gogh, you do know what you are looking at. Indeed, at the beginning of this essay, I used one of Cézanne’s paintings (“Apples, Peaches, Pears, and Grapes”) as an example of representational work. Still, the gradual shift to abstraction and the capturing of deep-seated emotion was real and far-reaching.

    May 19, 2013
    • Jerry Fresia

      Hi Patrice. I don’t disagree. If one is responding to “the sensation” and not seeing the thing as a thing, however, but instead seeing it just as line and color, it is possible and even probably in the early days, that a house, for example, might end up looking like a house, especially at a distance. But up close, generally, – from the distance at which the painter paints, one is likely to see marks that express/realize feelings. I think once a painter gets into this sort of thing, he/she becomes more confident and loose. But what one never sees is that exactitude that marks the kind of realism that tells a story and is about the subject matter entirely.

      May 20, 2013

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