Impressionist art is an artistic style that focuses on the viewer’s impression of the painting rather than the image itself. The impressionist movement planned by French painters in 1874 was meant to promote the freedom by artists to focus on other unique aspects of painting apart from realistic representation.
The pictures in impressionist art are painted with bright and bold colors to bring out an actual representation of the object in the picture (Herbert 14). The main aim of impressionism is to show the artist’s perception of the situation at hand. The pictures painted using the impressionist style do not have many details but the colors are expertly used to bring out the subject matter.
Modern impressionism entails the use of color physics in coming up with the exact impression the color and tone of the picture (Herbert 27). The effects of light and color are very important in the exact representation of an object. This paper will discuss the general characteristics of impressionism as applied in music and art.
Impressionism was invented with an objective of changing the traditional painting styles used to focus on the object and not the viewer. Impressionist art considers the kind of impression the painting leaves the viewer with.
Impressionist art is considered an emotional style because it emphasizes on the impression the image creates rather than focusing on producing a replica of the object being painted. Since impressionism does not pay attention to the intricate details of the picture, artists use bright colors that are painted with short strokes.
Light is very important in impressionist art because it helps in capturing the viewer’s impression on the object. Light is used by impressionist artists to show the different impressions of the subject matter (Clancy 12).
Impressionist art entails the use of visible strokes to create different physical and visual texture using a variety of colors. The short and thick strokes are very important in showing the exact mood of the subject matter.
An impressionist painting always portrays different moods at different times of the day because of the changes in the lighting pattern (Clancy 12). A single object can appear as if it is a series of paintings.
A perfect example of pictures dedicated to lighting is the haystacks painting by Monet. The early afternoon light that is always bright makes painting look as it is has yellow and gold streaks and the same haystacks appear to have black and blue streaks in the evening light.
Impressionism advocates for blurry and subtle lines with breaks between shadows being optional. This gives the painting a foggy effect that is a true characteristic of impressionist art. Impressionist art also uses a combination of soft lines that are normally visible together with solid lines that are very striking.
These lines help the artist in manipulating shadows and lights to create different impressions on the viewer. Impressionist art is also characterized by foregrounds that are very sharp and bright with blurry backgrounds (Clancy 24). The colors in an impressionist painting are normally bright and vibrant a thing that makes impressionist painting to appear fanciful.
The colors are meant to represent different tones in the original image. It is very possible to break the colors in an impressionist painting into a variety of elements. Different paintings of the sun can be created by playing around with different colors to create different impressions.
Impressionism focuses on making the scenes look sensational. The set up of impressionist art is normally done outdoors away from the normal studio setting. This gives the artist the freedom to create a variety of impressions using light. Impressionist paintings are usually done in a weather that is quite unique with skies that are lovely and fascinating (Herbert 18).
The natural light appears in a variety of types which gives the impressionist artist much freedom to alter the details of the objects in the painting using the natural light in different types.
Impressionist artists observe the manner in which the natural light strikes the object in a careful manner. The fleeting effect is often preferred by many impressionists. Waves and moving objects clearly illustrate the behavior of light in different scenarios. Leaves are a perfect example of moving objects and are known to flicker in the presence of direct sunlight. Movements in impressionist art are very fundamental.
There are special effects in impressionism that are applied by artist to create the impression of movement. Impressionism tackles ordinary matters that affect our daily lives through paintings. Impressionist artists are always supposed to be natural and creative.
Most paintings in impressionist art are always unplanned but artists come up with new ideas in the process of painting. Impressionists like quick painting as opposed to the slow procedural studio painting (Herbert 42). Most impressionist paintings are often finished in one sitting.
In impressionist art, colors are never blended because impressionists are always aware of the variety of colors found in light. A blue color that is painted next to yellow tends to create an impression of color green in the in the mind of the viewer because of the optical illusion brought about by light (Clancy 16).
The initial impression is more important in impressionism than the object details. The paintings are normally dried using the impasto style because of the quick way in which the paintings are painted. During the drying process, the painting is normally in a raised position.
Edges in impressionist paintings are made by placing light colors next to dark colors to create the impression of an edge. Impressionist art does not allow the use of dark lines in creating edges (Gunderson 20). Soft edges are created by placing wet paints next to each other.
The placing of wet colors next to each other helps a great deal in mixing the colors. True impressionism is against the use of black paint. The use of a black paint should be minimal incase it is compulsory to use it. Dark impressions are created by mixing a gray paint with another strong color. Dark tones can also be generated by mixing two or more complementary colors (Gunderson 23).
Shadowy effects in impressionism are clearly brought out in paintings when the paintings are done in the evening. Impressionist paintings have opaque surfaces with minimal or no application of thin paint glazes that normally makes paintings to look transparent in nature (Clancy 18).
The effects in impressionist art are brought about by light hence making it unnecessary for artists to use thin paint films as a way creating effects in the painting.
Generally, impressionist art relies on color reflection to create the desired impression in the mind of the viewer. The colors in impressionist paintings are often applied side by side. This style leads to a very vibrant surface with a good appeal to the eye of the viewer (Gunderson 27).
The impressionism movement also had a great effect on the classical European music apart from visual arts. Just like in arts, musical impressionism is completely different from the normal program music. The main focus in impressionist music is actually the atmosphere the music creates and the suggestion in it.
Normal program music focuses on the emotional part of music and the depiction of the musical story. Musical impressionist came into place as a reaction to the then excessively romanticized music (Clancy 17). Musical impressionism entails the use the whole tone scale and other scales that are very unfamiliar.
Impressionist musicians prefer to use dissonance instead of major and minor scales which are dramatically used in program music. Impressionist musicians’ compositions are normally the short form. Examples of these short form compositions include prelude, nocturne and arabesque (Clancy 17).
There are a lot of similarities between impressionist music and art. The shaping of new sound effects in impressionist music was greatly influenced by the color factor in impressionist art. Some of the unique effects in impressionist music include the accelerated piano dynamics and the long accords.
The combination of the two effects makes the music sound very interesting with an articulation that is very specific. The other common characteristic that has become very popular with impressionist music is the use of a glimmering sound (Herbert 34). The glimmering sound was created as a result of harmonic experiments by musical impressionists.
Impressionist musical harmonics are created by the use of a pentatonic scale and other modal scales. The texture of impressionist music is always clear as a result of utilizing unusual features of instruments that include the rarely used registers. The dynamics of impressionist music are achieved by the exposure of the dynamic effects that are very subtle (Clancy 23). The subtle dynamic effects play a big role in making the quality of the sound very sensational.
Impressionist music utilizes a variety of piano hues combined with written notes. The titles of impressionist music often refer to poetic pieces to demonstrate the variety of emotions associated with this kind of music.
Most of the subjects in impressionist music are mostly concerned with nature to bring out sensual effect. Impressionist music utilizes the bitonality technique which facilitates the use two harmonies at the same time. Bitonality lead to the creations of harmonies that are fuzzy contrary to the traditional clean and straightforward harmonies (Gunderson 29).
A perfect example of impressionist music that is played using two different harmonies is the piano piece titled La Puerto Del Vina by one of the most popular impressionist musicians known as Debussy. Two hands are used to play different keys to create the bitonality effect.
The piano literature in impressionist music is very extensive and requires a skillful use of pedals in performances. Impressionist musicians use pitch, tone and volume variations to create visual images. Impressionist music greatly emphasizes on the tone and mood created by the music. Impressionist music pays less attention to the formal musical structures (Gunderson 30).
The melody of impressionist music varies according to the kind of mood the musician wants to create. The melody in impressionist music is always aimless with a few instances of long lines. The harmony of impressionist music focuses on a specific individual chord which gives the music some direction.
In impressionist music, rhythm is often replaced by orchestration, harmony and texture. Impressionist music employs a large orchestra to give the music a variety of sounds and not necessarily for volume and power (Gunderson 30). In comparison to impressionist art, the dissonances in impressionist music are not prepared in advance but are made in the event of playing the music. Impressionist music often uses chromatics and exotic rhythms which dissociate it from the traditional program music (Clancy 57).
The impressionist style values chord according to their specific sonorities and not on their relationship with other chords. Most of the concepts in impressionist music are influenced by impressionist art. Most impressionist musicians compose their music as a result of the revelations they get from the artistic paintings (H erbert 27). The general objective of impressionist music is to create descriptive impressions in the mind of listeners rather than form the actual pictures.
In conclusion, impressionism is an artistic movement that has brought about a change in the creation and perception of art and music. Impressionist art focuses on the use of light and color to create different visual impressions on their paintings.
Impressionist music is greatly influenced by impressionist paintings where the real picture of the subject matter is not given much emphasis. Impressionism gives artists the freedom to fully expose their creativity.
Clancy, John I. Impressionism: Historical Overview and Bibliography. New York: Nova Publishers, 2003. Print.
Gunderson, Jessica. Impressionism. New York: The Creative Company, 2008. Print.
Herbert, Robert L. Impressionism: Art, Leisure and Parisian Society. New York: Yale University Press, 1991. Print.