In the here and now, Impressionism is applauded and appreciated for its uses of colour and light. Its ability to capture and convey how starkly different a subject is under different lighting is a style emulated to this day, standing strong after more than 150 years. But what exactly is Impressionism? How is it defined and where did it come from?

To understand Impressionism, one must look back to its history to see how the style developed and grew, in the face of repressive and stifling institutions, and in the shadow the post-industrial pre-modern world.

A short history of the Impressionist movement

The impressionist movement began in France, during 1860’s, though wouldn’t flourish into full fruition until the 1870’s. Artists Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renior, Alfred Sisley, Frederic Bazille and Eduoard Manet would meet weekly at a café near Manet’s studio to discuss technique and style, often taking trips to the country to paint in the open air together. This ran counter-current to the traditional trends, where artists would only typically sketch their subject in the open and paint in a studio, Manet’s group of artists, who met under the name of the ‘Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers’, painted the landscapes they visited, focusing more on the colours at play and the shifting light of the day, rather than the subject displayed, opting to slap wet paint on wet paint, and mix on the palette and canvas, affording them the speed needed to catch the shifting lights.

The traditionalist art schools of the era rejected this emerging style off the cuff, criticising the pieces as looking unfinished, and decried the subject matter; contemporary and leisure life, portrayed through still life, landscapes, and views of bustling streets and quiet cafes. The rejection had left little room for the Impressionists to showcase their work, until the April of 1874, when they self-funded their own exhibition in the photography studio of Felix Nadar. At the time, the entire affair was considered revolutionary, from the artworks, to the décor that they hung in, to the purchasing of works right off the walls.

Critics and art academics lampooned the event, and one such criticism of Claude Monet’s ‘Impression Sunrise’ (the work was declared ‘impressionistic’) gave the growing movement its name; Impressionism.

Ultimately the Impressionists would run 8 exhibitions between 1874 and 1886, though the core group of artists than began the exhibitions did not show work at every one of them. Eventually, they would go their separate ways, focusing on their own careers, either moving onto new styles, or refining the Impressionist style.

Defining the style

As mentioned above, the defining characteristics of Impressionism were its subject and style. Unlike the traditionalist art at the time, much technical focus was dedicated to hiding the artists hand and strokes, as well as glazing the canvas and paint upon completion. However, courtesy of Manet, Impressionism uses drastically different techniques. Brush strokes are much shorter, and more spontaneously placed, helping to convey the feeling and sight of moving and reflecting light.

Colour was often used in ways that hadn’t yet been considered at the time. Given the propensity to paint at times of transient light, artists would place wet paint on already wet paint, blending the edges of colours and giving everything a softer look, as outlining of the painting’s subjects was avoided. Outside of Manet’s works (who never referred to himself as Impressionist); artists would eschew the shade of black in favour of colourful vibrancy, reflecting the deep colour changes of transient light.

The layers on layers of paint, as well as the staccato brush technique leads to a uniquely textured final piece, where each moment of the artists hard work can be seen. While the process of Impressionist work is typically quick, the quality and care that has gone into each piece is immediately obvious.

Some examples from Art Selectors

Below are some of our selections from our Impressionist collection to help you gain further understanding of the Impressionist movement, as well as showcase some truly compelling pieces:

Fieldscape no. 5 by Joseph Villanueva

Fieldscape no. 5’ is a prime example of Impressionist art. From the prominent brushstrokes forming prominent clouds, and suggestive wisps of such, to the textured beauty of the tilled field below, one can see how the layers of paint have been added to give untold depth to the piece. It doesn’t just feel like the land stretches off into the horizon, but that the sky is incalculably deep. The touches of blue poking out from underneath the upper layers of paint suggest puddles, as if only recently rain had fallen upon the field.

 

Like a moth to flame by David Clare

Like A Moth To Flame by David Clare

As with ‘Fieldscape no. 5’, ‘Like a moth to flame’ features the prominent display of short brush strokes to give depth and presence to the sky and the clouds forming over a deep, calm and beautiful sea. The deep blue of the sea contrasts with the pink upon the clouds, hinting that the day is drawing to its close, and its use of colour and light is a fine example of classic Impressionism.

 

A Stitch In Time - Plein Air by Michelle Keighley

This piece exemplifies the use of layers within Impressionism to define shape, depth and weight. The darkness of the leaves offset by the whiteness of the sky allows the subject in the foreground to ‘pop’. As mentioned above, darker colours are usually avoided, but in this piece are used to great effect, giving the branches of the trees weight, and a sense of mass. The leaves are formed with strong, well defined brush strokes, in classic Impressionist fashion.

It’s a dream of most who admire art to one day start their own collection. Whether to present proudly to friends and family, to bask in it joyfully, or even to secure as an investment to quietly appreciate in value, starting an art collection is a rewarding adventure that can be easily shared with the important people in your life. Collecting art is an experience that is particular to the individual, but even still, there are a few things that a prospective (or veteran) collector should keep in mind. Here’s our guide on how to start your collection off the right way.

 

We’ll be covering:

                  • Budgeting for your collection
                  • The collection as an investment
                  • Building your collection.
                  • Displaying, protecting and storing your collection

 

Budgeting for your collection

When budgeting for your collection, the first thing to keep in mind is that collecting art doesn’t have to be a financially alienating experience. A slew of affordable artwork is readily available, and you can build yourself a more than respectable collection for an exceedingly reasonable price.

 

Consider the subjects, themes and styles you wish to collect when formulating your budget. Smaller pieces or some mediums such as acrylic paintings tend to offer more cost-effective investments for your collection, though the pieces we have curated are high quality, regardless.

The collection as an investment

It’s important to keep in mind that original art can retain its value very well, it can also appreciate in value at a reasonably high rate. Most advice around selecting pieces for an investment collection is to just buy. Regardless of artists, style, or trends, all pieces offer solid grounds as an investment. Art as an asset pays for itself considerably quickly, and with the added benefit of being able to be enjoyed and appreciated while it itself appreciates.

 

Building your collection


As is the case with all things art, the selection is subjective, and when it comes to building your collection, whether, for investment or pleasure, it’s important to select pieces that you can enjoy and that work with your environment. Your collection will be just as much a part of your home as the floor or the walls, and as with homes, you need something that you can live with.

 

When building your collection, consider if there’s a theme you want to follow, whether in style or subject.  The ‘Collections’ tab offers a stunning selection of contemporary and original collections, consisting of pieces of varying subject and style, and serves as a fine example for how a well-cultivated collection can be specific yet diverse.

 

This brings us to our next point:

Be diverse in your selections. As your collection grows, a story is slowly being told, and the diversity of your collection accentuates the choices within it. Whether you’re diverse in artists, style or subjects, a varied collection is greatly appreciable, both in value, and depth and substance. One of the great things about purchasing original art online is that it makes for a diverse approach to be easily achievable.

 

While trends take hold and certain artists and styles may become popular, don’t take these as reliable indicators of what makes a good collection, what you’ll enjoy, or what makes a sound long term investment. Trust your gut and purchase art that makes an impression on you.

 

Displaying, protecting and storing your collection

When beginning your collection, think of the space you have to display and store your pieces. Knowing the space that you have to work with is key to not only having a respectable collection that can be viewed together but also ensures it can be displayed as proudly as it should.
Measure the spaces where you wish to display your collection and refer to the dimensions listed when purchasing your artwork. Ideally, you want to leave between 20 and 30 cm of space between your pieces, as the neutral space around your pieces projects and defines the artwork. What you don’t see is just as important as what you do see.

Where not to place your collection is as significant a decision as to where to place it. Avoid placing your collection somewhere that will be in direct sunlight, or with prevalent moisture. Heat can lead to paint flaking, canvases growing saggy, and discolouration, while moisture can create mould and other problems down the line.

 

Ideally, wherever you display your collection should have some form of climate control, and the same should be said for when you store your pieces. It’s only natural that as your collection grows, some pieces may end up in storage, either as your need for space grows or in efforts to protect a deteriorating piece.

 

Wrapping a piece in tissue paper can protect from moisture, insects and dust, while also providing a breathable cover. You should avoid plastics so as not to trap any moisture or humidity in with your artwork, damning it to untold damages. Ultimately, research is your best friend in the protection of pieces. By knowing the mediums, the appropriate steps can be applied to better protect the works.

Whether as an investment or act of appreciation, becoming a collector and building your collection is a hugely rewarding experience. By considering what you’ve read, you’ll ensure that your collection is given the respect and care it needs so as to be enjoyed by all for many years to come.