What is Impressionism?


In the late 19th century (the 1800s), a group of painters, mostly in France, started painting in a new style.

Instead of using brushstrokes that had blended colors, the Impressionists used bright colors side by side that were meant to be "mixed" by the eye of the viewer. The brushstrokes were often short and thick.

The artists' goal was to show naturalism "the way the scenes really appeared" by depicting the way light appeared on the surface of objects.

The artists mostly painted outdoor scenes, like landscapes (such as fields and mountains), rivers, and pictures of the seaside. What was new was the fact that they actually painted the scenes outdoors--before that, even landscapes had been done primarily in a studio.

The name "Impressionist" comes from "Impression, Sunrise," a work by artist Claude Monet. An art critic writing about it (unfavorably!) took the name of the style of painting from the work of art.

Besides Claude Monet, Some other famous Impressionist painters include Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Camille Pissarro.

by Mya Kagan (Whyzz writer)


Try creating your own Impressionist work of art! Choose an outdoor scene (paint it outdoors, if possible) and some bright colors of paint, like blue, green, yellow and red. Try putting certain colors side by side, like red and blue, so that the viewer's eye "mixes" them into purple. Pay attention to light and shadow. Is it easy or hard to paint that way?


"Impressionism.", Encyclopdia Britannica Online.Impressionism and Post Impressionism. Art Access: Pronunciation Guide. 2004. The Art Institute of Chicago