Impressionistic Spring

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More years ago than I care to admit, I interviewed at Middlebury College and took a tour of the campus with an art major. I learned a new term from that student: impressionistic spring. This is the time of year when the trees are hazy with emerging leaf buds.

We’re at the peak of impressionistic spring here – the trees have leaf buds in bronze, dark red, yellow, and every shade of green from pale green to celery to moss to myrtle to olive and celadon. The colors are more subtle than the brash shades of fall but have a dreamy quality and a beauty all their own. There are also the bright colors of the red bud trees, daffodils, and hyacinths.

Impressionism is a 19th-century art movement characterized by relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, open composition, emphasis on accurate depiction of light in its changing qualities. The Impressionists sought to capture the optical effects of light – to convey the passage of time, changes in weather, and other shifts in the atmosphere in their canvases. Their art did not necessarily rely on realistic depictions.

So who were the Impressionists? Eduard Manet, Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre-August Renoir, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sergeant – some of these names should be familiar.

We get the term impressionistic spring from the colors these artists used and their hazy quality. I’ve included a few of Monet’s paintings with all these gorgeous colors.

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26 thoughts on “Impressionistic Spring

  1. Diane Clavreau

    Always been one of my preferred periods and painters. Light, colors, atmosphere. And lots of things to say about it. Thank you.

  2. I love the Impressionist painters. Thanks for sharing some of my favorite paintings! We HAD an impressionistic spring here, but now it’s bitter cold and there’s a monster snowstorm headed our way. Oh well!

  3. I’m going to start using that phrase, “impressionistic spring”. How apt! Thank you for sharing that!

    I’ve read the impressionist style was crucially helped by the invention of the flat artist’s brush around that time, and that they were encouraged in their choice of subjects by three further inventions of the day. The paint tube, the French easel, and the train — all of which made it much easier to get out of the studio into the countryside where the light was.

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