OUR IMPRESSIONIST MEMORY
Our Impressionist Memory
Of all the paintings styles in the world today, I believe impressionism is the most powerful.
When the impressionists of the 19th century were given the label it was not a friendly description. Their work was regarded by many as unfinished and rough. Such a departure from the traditional ways was not accepted with open arms.
Impressionism though, was just the right word to describe the work and today the tradition continues with artists standing upon the shoulders of those early pioneers.
The unfinished look of much impressionism is actually the key to its power because it invites participation from the viewer. That obscure passage in a painting calls for further investigation and we add to it without even thinking.
So much can be said with so little with through impressionism. In fact more can be said with a simple moody piece than with a canvas full of detail. A painting crammed with focussed detail says than the artist worked hard get as much amazing detail as possible. The wonder is in the work itself.
When it comes to dreams or memories we have of events and places, we tend to remember the impressions. Our memories of places are mentally painted with a broad brush. Impressionist paintings of places draw us in because it’s how we remember them in our minds and dreams.
This is why when we take holiday snaps they almost never fully capture what we felt at that time. Artists in particular know this to be true. We take shots of scenes we would like to paint and then are disappointed with the lack of soul in the photographic reference.
That’s where the artist comes in.
It is the honourable task of artists to capture the feelings of a place or moment and it's not always easy. I firmly believe that it is our vocation to make people feel and not just see.
Impressionism as I see it, is our best chance of conveying mood and atmosphere because we are not so much concerned about getting the details right. Getting the atmosphere right is much more important and it's difficult to capture by the trace and paint method so often used today.
Our memories of places are so bound up with how it made us feel, that any painting that just relies on visual accuracy will be found wanting. We remember impressions not the thousand windows in a cityscape.
Exaggerate the light and the shadow, make the broodiness even more intriguing and add the missing drama of life!
Don't just be a painter - dare to be an artist!