Artists of the 19th century popularized paintings favored by Romantics, especially the view through an open window looking out to an idyllic landscape. A theme that remains a popular motif for artists today. Bonnard, Renoir, Picasso, Cezanne and Van Gogh were drawn to the sun-drenched villages of Provence. For others, the solace of quaint fishing villages in Brittany, England or Cape Cod with the enduring lure of the sea. Nature has been a perennial source of inspiration for artists and writers' imaginations and creativity and a source of renewal. The Impressionists popularized painting outdoors (Plein Air) and basked in nature. Each summer they gathered in northern France, where Monet, Morisot, Seurat and Pissarro, captured the atmosphere of the region. For women artists like Berthe Morisot it was one of the few opportunities to escape the restrictions of her life in Paris and pursue her art.
The artists featured in the Winter and Spring lessons found that travel was an epiphany and brought new life and style to their work. Renoir was widely traveled and spent several months in Italy in 1881. The experience led to a rebirth in his art and a movement away from his impressionistic style.
Henri Matisse "Window at Tangier" 1912
Matisse was influenced by the colors, textiles and architecture from his Moroccan travels and brought those to his paintings. The months he spent in Morocco, made an indelible impression on his art and remained with him for the rest of his long life. Paul Klee visited Tunisia in 1914 and it was there that he found his way as an artist. He suddenly felt as though he understood color. “Color possesses me. I don’t have to pursue it, that is the meaning of this happy hour: Color and I are one. I am a painter.” Although he never returned to Tunisia, he continued to set down images from that trip for years to come and became known for his color studies.
“Everything at a distance turns into poetry: distant mountains, distant people, distant events: all become Romantic”.
The lessons in the past few weeks were inspired by the art of Renoir and a variety of artists that interpreted the theme, “A Room with a View". Week one, the class either did a landscape or still life inspired by Renoir. Week two we added the window, with the focus on the distant vistas. Last week we incorporated the view from the interior. It was an opportunity to tie all of the elements together layer by layer and design a composition including architecture, furniture, a still life and light and shadow. For the Renoir landscapes we used watercolors and the “Room with a View” pieces were done with oil pastels.
(The Weds. class had an additional lesson - Paul Klee inspired collages)
With Spring break beginning on Friday, the Sat. classes were smaller in size but big on color and enthusiasm.