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Modern Impressionism

Today there is a Modern Impressionist revival. Art movements are often a responsea rejection of environmental, social, and political forcesand the collective need to express and manifest a new perspective. It is this need that Modern Impressionism answers. We can reinvent our world, with art that stands for something good.

French Impressionism was preoccupied with the immediate, the "fleeting moment," and depicting light. Modern Impressionism goes beyond the moment, with thoughtful intention and inventive color, seeks to express motion and emotion that is optimistic and beautiful. Modern Impressionists believe the painting should be so much more than an impression. Modern Impressionists spend time, through mindful exploration, really getting to know our subjects and surroundings.

Modern Impressionism celebrates a renewed commitment to living a life that reconnects us to our natural world and each other. It rejects mindless consumerism for living a more meaningful, sustainable life. Modern Impressionism seeks to elicit emotion in the viewer, uniting us through art. Representational art excels at communicating complex and personal emotions that connect us to a place, time, or shared cultural experience on a deeper level.

Like French Impressionists, Modern Impressionists often paint:

Plein Air or outside from life
Capture the effects of light
Oftentimes at early dawn and dusk
Use expressive brush strokes
Similar expanded palette and color theory
High Key
Similar aesthetic with bold color, interwoven with levels of abstraction
Inspired by Optics and Light
Optical Mixing
No hard lines
Thick impasto paint application
Mixing complementary color for darks
Works wet into wet to avoid hard edges
Layers of colors, leaving areas of under color exposed underneath achieved through hatching, cross hatching, stippling, dry brushing, and sgraffito

Modern Impressionist technique, while rooted in traditional Impressionist technique, has been afforded technological advances that open a level of expression that its predecessors could have only dreamed of. Modern Impressionists often emphasize color harmony over the optical mixtures of "pure pigment" favored by French Impressionists.  Modern Impressionists often paint indirectly in complex layers, creating a rich visual experience.

Technological advancements of the computer and photography also influence the modern aesthetic. These advancements have aided artists in envisioning beyond the natural world, into the ideal world. Exploring color, composition, and symbolism, to communicate through our shared visual language, in a deeper more meaningful way emphasizing beauty and harmony.

French Impressionism was a response to the academy and the institution, and socioeconomic conditions of their time in the face of industrialization. It was a radical departure from the establishment. The French Impressionist movement became synonymous with the avant-garde, spontaneity, and independence. Conversely, Modern Impressionism, is a return to tradition, community, and connectedness. Modern Impressionism goes beyond the moment and envisions a better and brighter world.

We too, are at a crossroads . . . globalism, climate change, poverty, inequality, polarization, dysfunction, and technology that is supposed to connect us, further divides us. In a world where we cannot hear each other, visual art is the universal language. Visual art can unite us by through shared culture, tradition, and places. Ultimately, Modern Impressionism stands for something: it is a return to tradition, the simple life, and to living a life with meaning.

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Shirley Bales, artist

Hi there! I'm Shirley. While I was practically born with a paintbrush in hand, I formally studied fine art under an accomplished forensic portrait artist and other notable illustrators in the 1990's. My favorite thing to do is paint outside. I  paint in mixed media and oil and love color! My work resides in thousands of private collections nationwide, and I am so grateful.