Why Impressionism Vanished into Plein Air

In the later 1800s, a movement formed in France, in opposition to the dominance and authority of the Académie des Beaux-Arts. These artists essentially rejected the previously accepted “rules” of what was considered art, and what was not. And, attempted to establish a new freedom in artistic expression.

Claude Monet, Impression Sunrise, 1872, oil on canvas, 48 x 63 cm (Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris).

Now, I’m not attempting to provide some art history lesson. If you want to know more about Impressionism (which is what the movement was called), there are myriad resources you could turn to.

So, why am I bringing this up? Well, Impressionism, and the notion of Modernity, started something that really never stopped. The freedom those artists sought to create, in reality, ended up morphing over time into one art movement after another. Now, the odd thing is that these movements generally ended up with their own rules, and the general public ended up more and more removed from the fine art world.

Impressionism was a beautiful form of painting done in the outdoors, hence the name En Plein Air, focusing on the transience of light and the general subject matter of Modernity, or more simply, modern life. However, while Impressionism as a movement did forever change the future of art as we know it, it was superseded after about two decades by other movements. And, over the ensuing decades, art remained governed to a large extent by ideas and concepts that artists felt they had to follow.

Now, I can’t change that by myself. However, as an artist, I most certainly can choose to do what I want, and ignore what I once struggled to comprehend and operate with.

What do I mean? Well, rather than attempt to limit myself to some particular form of artistic expression, medium, subject matter, and so on for me to be marketable or whatever, I have chosen to simply do as I wish. And, ultimately, I’m just a person that likes to be creative, and to share what I create with you.

So, what’s my point? Well, I refer to myself as an artist because that’s what I am. I am not just a photographer or painter or writer either. And, in time I will share more of what I do as an artist. However, the real point I’m trying to get to doesn’t really have to do with me at all. It has to do with you.

See, unfortunately, most people still don’t have the slightest idea how to approach art because well, honestly it’s intimidating. Goodness, it’s even intimidating to me even after years of education and exposure to it all. Going to art museums can be wonderful for me. But, at the same time, depending on the art being shown, it can be bizarre and uncomfortable.

So, I would simply like to invite you, the next time you look at a work of art, simply to ask yourselves, do I like this? See, the funny thing is, that is exactly what we all do with so many other forms of media. Music. Literature. Film. And so on.

So, my suggestion is simply this, judge art for yourself, whether or not you find it appealing, and so on, just like if you are listening to a song for the first time. And no, you don’t need to learn about art to be able to say, “I like that,” or “I don’t like that.” Sure, if you want to, you can certainly learn about art, but it isn’t necessary.

You can learn about music too. But, you don’t have to study music composition in order to enjoy Moonlight Sonata, or Sitting By the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding, or some form of Electronica like the song Fireflies by Owl City. With all of them, all you have to do is listen, and if you like them, great. So, it should be the same way with art.

Below is some art from me. And, as a simple exercise, try simply asking yourself, do I like it? Why do I like it? What do I not like about it? You could even consider things like how you would like certain aspects to be different, and so on. So, if you do like it, that’s wonderful. And, I’m glad you do. On the other hand, if you don’t, that’s okay too, to each his own, and no hard feelings.

Sunset from Kings Beach, North Lake Tahoe, CA

So, I hope this post makes you think a little bit. And, if you like my writing, and you like my art, I invite you to come back for more.