Category Archives: Research


The last exercise was to annotate and analyse an Impressionist Landscape or paint your own version. I chose Monet’s ‘Landscape with Thunderstorm’, this is my pastel version.


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The Impressionist movement in painting originated in France in the 1860’s and had an enormous influence on European and North American painting in the late 19th century. The Impressionists wanted to depict real life, to paint straight from nature and to capture the changing effect of light. The term was first used derisively to describe Claude Monet’s painting Impression, Sunrise (1872). Other leading Impressionists included Paul Cezanne, Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Camille Pissaro and Pierre-Auguste Renoir but only Monet remained devoted to Impressionist ideas throughout his career.

One of the hallmarks if Impressionism is painting in the open air (en plain air). Monet, Renoir and Alfred Sisley who met as students and enjoyed painting this way were committed to painting nature. Their styles were diverse, but all they all experimented with the effects of light and movement created with distinct brushstrokes and fragments of colour that were placed side by side on the canvas instead of being mixed on a palette.

Manet emerged as the leader of the early Impressionists but it was Monet and his followers who laid the theoretical foundations of the movement. They avoided using browns, blacks and ochre’s only using pure colours of the spectrum with the addition of white.

Although the movement had run its course by the late 1880’s there were various developments out of it from 1880to 1905, Post Impressionism and Neo Impressionism. Impressionism also had a major influence on British avant-garde painting in the late 19th century and early 20th century.


Degas monotypes

I’ve never really thought of Degas being associated with any other type of art form besides pastels. I read somewhere recently that he had also done mono prints or monotypes so looked onlinefor more info about them.

A brief definition can be read here

After reading about how he would take two prints, one strong that he kept as the original and one weak which he would use to work on further with pastel or gouache. I remember that I had heard of this on a tv programme but forgotten about.

I also found this interesting PDF about Degas art on the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Camera Obscura

My tutor suggested I should do some research on this as I had mentioned it in my annotation of a Vermeer interior and some experts believe he used one.

Camera = room
Obscura = dark

The ‘camera obscura’ has been known of since ancient times by the likes of Aristotle and Leonardo da Vinci who in 1490 wrote about it in his sketchbooks. It was called the ‘camera obscura’ until the early 1600’s when it was used by the German astronomer Johannesburg Keples.

The ‘camera obscura’ is an optical device which projects an image on to a screen. Originally a room but over tone it developed in to a portable box which had a small hole in one side through which the light travels. Instead of it going in a straight line as is usual it reforms as an image on any flat surface opposite and is upside down and reversed.

The lenses used by Vermeer did not focus accurately so the middle ground would be sharp and in focus but the foreground and background were blurry. The camera we use today developed from the ‘camera obscura’ and we can use depth of field to get a varying range of focus from sharp to blurry depending on what effect we want in the photo.

You can read more here

I remember watching this Omnibus programme with David Hockney when he had written a book about the camera obscura. Can’t believe it is 10 years ago.

Part one

Part two

Les Nabis

When I did some research on Edouard Vuillard I discovered he was part of a group called ‘Les Nabis’ again I’d never heard of them.

On this website it says that decorative painting had enjoyed a resurgence in Europe in the late 19th early 20th century.

“Their works celebrate pattern and ornament, challenge the boundaries that divide fine arts from crafts, and, in many cases, complement the interiors for which they were commissioned”.

They were a group of Post-Impressionist avant-garde artists in 1890’s France. Most of them were a group of friends who had studied at Rodolphe Julian (Académie Julian) a private art school in Paris.

Georgia O’Keeffe

I’ve just been watching the end of a biopic on Georgia O’Keeffe.  There has recently been a trend for photographs/paintings of enlarged flowers in interior design but after doing some research Georgia O’Keeffe  was doing it in the 1920’s.  When you think about it nothing is new in art.

Georgia Totto O’Keeffe was born in 1887 in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin USA.  After studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago 1905-1906 and in 1907 attending the Art Students League in New York.   She didn’t pursue a career as an artist though as she felt she could never distinguish herself as an artist in the traditional sense but became a commercial artist.  She started to paint again in 1912 after attending a summer school at the University of Virginia.

In 1916 some of her charcoal drawings were exhibited at the ‘291’ gallery owned by Alfred Stieglitz who would later become her husband.  Her first sold exhibition was in April 1917 again at ‘291’ but this time it included oil paintings and watercolours that she had completed in Texas.

In the mid 1920’s she started to paint her now famous large scale flower paintings, the first of which Petunia, No. 2 was exhibited in 1925.  Her works commanded large sums of money for the times, Stieglitz had in 1928 masterminded the sale of a series of six Calla Lily painting for $25,000 and although the sale did not go through the promotion surrounding the possible sale gave her extensive media attention.

She suffered a nervous breakdown in 1932 when she was unable to finish a mural for Radio City Music Hall.

Her work changed direction when in 1929 she started to spend part of the year in New Mexico and used the rocks and bones she found in the desert as part of the landscape paintings she did here.  In 1940 she bought a house on Ghost Ranch and in 1943 she said “Such a beautiful, untouched lonely feeling place, such a fine part of what I call the ‘Faraway’. It is a place I have painted before . . . even now I must do it again.”

Georgia O’Keeffe was still painting well in to her 80’s but in 1972 she was diagnosed with macular degeneration, which meant she lost her central vision leaving her only with peripheral vision.  Losing your sight for anyone is hard but especially for an artist but although she stopped painting in oils she carried on working with pencils and charcoal until 1984.

She died on 8th March 1986 aged 98 in Santa Fe and as she wished her ashes were scattered at the top of Pedernal Mountain.

Just found these YouTube videos of Georgia O’Keeffe talking in 1977 about her work.  We are so lucky to be able to search the internet and find these snippets from years past aren’t we.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three


John William Waterhouse

John William Waterhouse was born to English parents in Italy 1849 but moved to London to enrol at the Royal Academy of Art. Later he exhibited at their summer exhibitions

He was given the title of the Modern Pre-Raphaelite as he worked in their style but decades after their heyday in the mid 19th century.

He was known for his paintings of women from Ancient Greek mythology and Arthurian legends.

Liverpool has a few of his paintings including this at the Walker and two at the Lady Lever here and here


Edouard Vuillard

My first choice for the Exercise: annotate an interior view was by the artist Edouard Vuillard and as he was new to me I did some research on him.

He was born in France on 11th November 1869 in and died 21st June 1940. He was a painter and printmaker who was associated with the Les Nabis (which is Hebrew for Phrophets) who were a group of Post- Impressionist avante guarde artists on 1890’s France. They were inspired by the synthecism of Paul Gaugin, a term that derives from the French verb synthétiser meaning to combine to form a new, complex product and was used to distinguish themselves from Impressionism. Instead of using a naturalistic approach to colours their approach was symbolic emphasising the flatness of the canvas by painting simple shapes and strong colours which was inspired by the Japanese woodcuts that were popular at the time.

He painted mostly interiors, streets and gardens in soft, blurred colours often using very intricate patterns. He never married and lived with his mother who was a dressmaker until she died when he was 60.

This painting is in the collection of the Walker here in Liverpool. I must look for it next time I go as I don’t remember seeing it.