Modern Art: From Impressionism to Contemporary

Impressionism is a style of art often known as optical realism. It is denoted by a unique visual experience with light effects and movements in the manner objects appear. Key highlights of this art style include pure primary colors and little strokes to compliment the light reflected (Wildendstein, 2010).

Claude Monet, a key French painter, was among the founders of this style of painting. He was well able to incorporate elements of art which involved bright distinct colors, small strokes to create unique and elaborate pieces of art work that fall under this style of art (Kelder, 1978). Most impressionists perceive that the human eye is a tremendous vessel.

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“The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean (Woman with a Parasol)” is one of the great works of Monet. The portrait is of the wife Camille and his son Jean who are on the hillside against a cloudless sky. In this masterpiece, it is evident that it was painted outside on a summer day in open air where Monet’s family seems to be out strolling in the meadow.

Monet, in his pursuit to capture the son and wife’s likenesses, uses strokes of bright color creating a spontaneous effect throughout the portrait. The folds on Camille depict the breeze which seems to blow the thin fabric across her face. Light is seen to come from the right side creating contrasting breeze from the left side. This unique feel from the wind and the sun converge at the middle of the canvas (WebMuseum, 2002).

Another aspect depicted from this painting is that of perspective. It is seen to be upward as the view from the bottom is able to shield the images away from the sky which gives it a great feel of both light and sun. Depth is yet another aspect highlighted in this painting. The son seems to appear from his waist upwards, enabling Monet to comfortably create a feel of depth into the work of art. Color and line are well highlighted in this painting bringing a contrast of light, sun and the wind (WebMuseum, 2002).

Green as the dominant color appears on the parasol and the grass on the hillside signifying nature. This color unifies the parasol and the grass on the hill, creating a flow of the eyes from one point (the parasol) to the bottom (the hillside) (Monet & Gattinara 2004). This flow attracts the eyes to concentrate on the art work as denoted by the shadows on the grass. The painting appears to be blurry as one cannot tell if Mrs. Monet is walking or not.

On scrutinizing the painting from a distance, clarity diminishes. The presence of light compliments the wind and movement in this portrait. One cannot be in a position to pinpoint exactly where the clouds seem to seize existence as the wind gently blows Mrs. Monet’s scarf. Light seems to bring in a feel of perspective as the portrait is viewed from the bottom where the grass is, all the way to the top where the clouds lie. Green as the prevalent color unifies the parasol and the hillside.

This makes it bring in rhythm as the eyes flow from the parasol’s handle to its top, then slowly to the green that appears on the hillside. The sun rays shining from behind Mrs. Monet seems to give the parasol a bright white look that also compliments her veil, as reflections from the flowers beneath radiantly give her front a nice touch of yellow (Monet & Gattinara 2004). The vibrant colors and light used by Monet are key features in accentuating this painting style known as impressionism.

Philosophy is defined as determining the truth; which involves a number of years of studying some of the greatest minds of history, which we eventually uphold in life (Wildendstein, 2010). The impressionist style of painting concentrates on the impression as a whole, created by a scene through a rigorous use of pure (unmixed) primary colors in conjunction with small brush strokes to intensify the actual reflected light. Monet in his painting, “The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean (Woman with a Parasol)”, is scrupulous enough to convey this style through the use of vibrant colors; a key feature of style. The short broken strokes of the brushes used also depict form which is a key element of art in this painting technique.

Effects of light are also amplified through the extensive use of color. This, in Monet’s “The Stroll, Camille Monet and Her Son Jean (Woman with a Parasol)” when the shadow in the grass, was rendered through the effect of light. The use of brushes in a relaxed manner leaves the piece of art with a touch of naturalness (Monet & Gattinara, 2004). However, he has thoughtfully been able to blend in light with these colors to bring in a feeling on perspective.

In Monet’s work, it is quite clear that philosophy creates a beautiful illusion in our minds which in turn opens up tremendous possibilities for art through representation (Issacson & Monet, 1978). This is achieved though the reality of knowledge. Impressionism clearly comes out as the greatest form of art when combined with philosophy because it gives everything a sense of change yet preserving the time line.

In conclusion, the bright distinct colors, small strokes and effects of light incorporated in this unique painting technique make the lovers of art appreciate the impressionist’s expertise that involves the “minds eye” dexterity. This goes a long way in retaining a mental picture of the viewed work of art.

This technique of painting is viewed both brightly and full of life. Art as a language brings out that which nature cannot bring forth. Impressionalism as a form of art qualifies as it not only represents the outward physical view of things but highlights their inward significance.


Issacson, J. and Monet, C. (1978). Claude Monet, observation and reflection. London: Phaidon

Kelder, D. (1978). Great masters of French impressionism. London, UK: Crown Publisher.

Monet, C. and Gattinara, F. C. (2004). Woman with a parasol. New York, NY: Barrons

WebMuseum. (2002). Monet, Claude: The stroll, Camille Monet and the son Jean (Woman with a parasol). Retrieved 15th September 2011 from

Wildendstein, D. (2010). Monet, or, the triumph of impressionalism. Los Angeles, CA: Taschen America LLC


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