I used to think so romantically about Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, and the other Impressionists. Not romantic like “Édouard Manet is so dreamy.” But romantic as in idealizing this particular group of painters — thinking they stepped outside of their studios and, snap, Impressionism just happened.
Veneration can sometimes blind the mind’s eye to all the toil and planning that goes behind an elegant masterpiece. The reality is that the Impressionists were plein air art strategists, thinkers and pioneering technicians when it came to the art they produced.
Sure, spontaneity was part of the plein air art experience that these 19th-century artists were drawn to. But that doesn’t mean they didn’t work at it. Continue reading.