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Impressionism—its techniques as well as its practitioners, past and present—continues to excite the passion of artists and art enthusiasts alike. From the plein-air landscapes first painted near the forests of Barbizon outside Paris, through the fields of Giverny that Monet immortalized, to the art of American expatriates such as John Singer Sargent and the European-trained American nativists like William Merritt Chase, the influence of impressionism on American art has had a long and distinguished history.
Through artistic principles developed by Charles Hawthorne, an influential American impressionist and educator who studied with Chase and founded The Cape Cod School of Art, the rich legacy of the impressionist tradition was passed on to several generations of twentieth-century American artists.
In Painting the Impressionist Landscape, Lois Griffel, the current director of The Cape Cod School of Art and an accomplished artist in her own right, explores and illustrates Hawthorne’s philosophy and theories about color and light, enabling artists at every level of ability and experience to apply his insights to their own work.
The first part of the book, “Fundamentals of Color and Light,” elaborates on the circumstances and individuals that contributed to the development of impressionism. The author then outlines the progression of the study of color and light that is covered in detail later in the book, from simple block studies—the most effective way to learn to use pure color to express the effects and quality of light—through the more complex rounded forms in still lifes and portraits, to the most challenging forms intrinsic to landscape.
Griffel then discusses the essentials of color—its terms, the impressionist palette, and color mixing—as well as how established color theory expresses and influences the impressionist approach.
The second part of the book, “Impressionism in Practice,” takes readers through a series of explorations that guides them toward a mastery of the impressionist landscape. Griffel begins by itemizing the materials that artists need to prepare for painting outdoors and describing how the light of the setting affects color within the context of a composition. The detailed chapters on the studies—from sunny day and cloudy day blocks, to still lifes and portraits, culminating in landscapes—are all structured to lead readers through each step, enabling them first to evaluate, then eventually realize in their own painting, Hawthorne’s enlightening perceptions about capturing the radiance of nature's light in art.
Beautifully illustrated with the art of the author, her colleagues at the artist’s colony in Provincetown, and selections by Monet, Sargent, and Hawthorne himself, Painting the Impressionist Landscape is a lively and informative guide to expressing light as color in art.
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Lois Griffel’s lifelong interest in art began at the age of five, when she first entertained neighborhood children with her drawings and paintings. She discovered early in her career that she enjoyed teaching and attended Southern Connecticut State College in order to receive her bachelor of science degree in education. Later, while making her living as a portrait painter, she enrolled at the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design in New York, where she studied with many outstanding artists, including Everett Raymond Kinstler and Harvey Dinnerstein. Her introduction in the early 1970s to Henry Hensche, Charles Hawthorne’s protégé, led to her in-depth study and practice of the impressionist theory of painting. As director and instructor at The Cape Cod School of Art, it gives her great joy to combine her loves of teaching and painting, and to share them with enthusiastic students. Ms. Griffel has had a number of one-person exhibitions throughout New England, and has been included in invitational exhibitions in New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Carmel, California. She holds workshops in landscape, portrait, and figure painting throughout the northeast.
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