Posted in Art and Artists, Assignment 2, Assignments, Coursework, Part 2, Research & Reflection

Research: Impressionist Still Life

My work in this part so far, including my to be finished Still Life in line, has been quite “tight” and detailed. This is in contrast to my more successful Life Drawing works, which are finished much more quickly – but in some ways are drawings I like more. This made me reflect on the Impressionist works that I’d seen, and I decided to do a bit of research.

Let’s start with this piece, which I saw at the recent Degas exhibition at the Fitzwilliam in Cambridge:

Paul Cézanne (1839 -1906), Still-life with apples
Paul Cézanne (1839 -1906), Still-life with apples from

The forms don’t like that impressive of the screen, but in reality relatively simple blocks of colour bring the apples to life. The following follows a similar approach, and is by Passario:

Still Life with Apples and Pitcher, Camille Pissarro (1872)
Still Life with Apples and Pitcher, Camille Pissarro (1872) from

The same idea shines through: for the impact of the image the number of actual blocks of colour and brush strokes is relatively small. This is almost an opposite extreme from the work I’ve been doing on my projects of late.

Another point to consider is the colour itself: It is often an approximation of the colour I suspect the artist saw rather than a faithful reproduction of it. The featured image, by Renior, shows the point fairly well. This hasn’t gone as far as the positively false colour that appears later. The idea is to convey the idea of the colour rather than try for a photo-realistic rendering.

There are many more examples, many of them interesting, out there – as can be seen by Google Searches for MonetCezanne, Degas or Pissaro. They vary in style and detail, but in comparison to the general still life style around 1800 they are less finished providing a much less tight and realistic style.

I’m hoping that if I work quickly with a block based medium (e.g. Conte, Soft pastels or Oil Pastels) I’ll be able to get a similar impression in my own work. I suspect that I will need to do a small series of works and pick the best rather than hoping for one-off perfection.

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