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Thursday, April 15, 2010


"Poppy Fields near Argenteuil"
50 x 65 cms

You are an Impressionist painter working directly from the landscape as Monet and Pissaro did.
Your canvas is 50 cms high by 65 cms long. In order to "capture" the variety of small tonal variations you see in the landscape you have decided to work with a small round brush with a roughly 1 cm brushstroke across the surface of your canvas. For every 2 cm x 2 cm you need about 15 brushstrokes to cover that area. If we propose that from the palette to the canvas takes around 1 second of time every 2 x 2 cm of canvas takes around 15 seconds to fill. The size of the canvas means you have 800 squares to fill, (25 squares high multiplied by 32 squares long). 15 seconds multiplied by 800 gives us 12,000 seconds. If we divide 12,000 by 60 we can reduce it to minutes. This is 200 minutes. If we divide by 60 again we can render this into hours. This works out at approximately 3 and a half hours. These figures are, of course, simplistic. This is not intended as a critique of Monet or Pissaro. It is intended as a critique of the mythology surrounding Impressionist painting.
If you started painting at 8 o'clock in the morning you would be finishing at around 11.30. By this time the sun would have moved to well toward its zenith. Every shadow would have changed in direction shape and colour. Even the colours you viewed would have changed as the quality of light changed. What began as a clear day may have turned cloudy. Sunny to grey.
Is it possible to to produce a painting of this size painting directly from the landscape ?

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