If you love art, you probably are aware that Impressionist art is a category of art that is associated with an emotive quality, bright colors, and subject matter that is taken from daily life. You might know the famous names who are connected with this art movement, but can you recognize their works? Knowing what to look for when trying to recognize painting styles can make a big difference in the way that you perceive art and the way that you purchase pieces for your own collection.

Being able to recognize Impressionist pieces can help you to connect with the art that you might want to add to your home or business. There are many young artists who are creating an entirely new Impressionist art movement and recognizing the techniques that make an Impressionist art piece can help you to find this kind of art reliably.

If you are ready to learn more about how to identify Impressionist art, you need to keep reading!

Identifying Impressionist Art

1.       Bold Brush Strokes are Used in Impressionist Art Pieces

The brush strokes that are used in Impressionist pieces are bold and easy to see on the canvas. This is one of the key things that you should look for when you are trying to spot Impressionist pieces. Some Impressionist painters do not even paint with a brush and instead use a special kind of knife to apply paint to the canvas. This makes for works of art that show every brush stroke clearly and create an almost 3-dimensional appearance to the painting.

In traditional paintings, the strokes which were used to apply paint were often quite short, and this leads to a thick application of paint in some places. In modern interpretations of this painting style, there might be a mixture of short strokes and longer strokes that are used to craft the work. This gives a different feeling when it comes to color and shadow but does not alter the visibility of the strokes on the canvas.

2.     Black is Never Used in Impressionist Art So You Can Easily Identify

In Impressionism, there is no use of the color black. Shadows and other darker areas of a painting are shaded in with gray paints or dark blues. You will not see harsh shadows or very dark black pigments in any Impressionist piece. Even modern Impressionist painters avoid the use of very dark colors, other than in nighttime renderings or in situations where the contrast of deep shadows is required. The sense of lightness and movement that is embodied by the Impressionist art movement does not necessitate the use of black paint.

3.      Light is Always Essential in Impressionist Art Work

Impressionist works always capture the light in a scene and use it to great effect. Most Impressionist pieces are focused on capturing outdoor settings due to the complexity of the light that is offered by these kinds of scenes. In Impressionism, the light that is captured in the images that are portrayed is of key importance, and it is often the most noticeable aspect of the painting. Many Impressionist painters will actually do studies where they paint the same image at different times of the day just to show how the light changes and impacts the feeling of the image in question. This can be one of the most meaningful kinds of Impressionist work, and there have been plenty of early Impressionist painters who have also used this technique to create works of art.

Impressionist art work

4.       Photographic Elements are Used in Impressionist Art

It is likely that the emergence of photography helped to influence the Impressionist movement in the late 19th century. Photographs captured moments frozen in time, and they did not show anything other than the true nature of the subject. This sense of immediacy and accuracy is still a key defining feature of Impressionism, and you should be able to imagine the painting in front of you as a photograph that is represented with beautiful brushstrokes. The sense of the subject being fleeting and gone as soon as it was captured is also a part of this aspect of Impressionism.

5.       The Majority of Impressionism Art Focuses on Outdoor Subjects 

Impressionism, even in its modern form, almost always captures events and scenes that take place outdoors. The light from the sun and the moon is essential to the nature of an Impressionist work, and indoor lighting cannot convey the subtleties that are part of the Impressionist painting style. You will find that nearly all modern Impressionist painters still use outdoor settings for their inspiration when creating their works of art.

This is due to the En Plein Air painting style that is so central to the Impressionist movement. This was also a unique feature of the Impressionist movement, as landscape painting had faded in popularity somewhat and had become the province of young girls learning to paint with their teachers or governesses. Landscape painting with a focus on the light and the movement of the scene in front of the artist breathed new life into this kind of art, and this continues to be a favored subject matter for painters who work in this style.

6.       One of the First Things to Notice About Impressionist Art is Their Movement and Off-center Poses

The early Impressionist movement quickly connected itself to the influence of Japanese art, which allowed for pieces that showed clear movement and that did not require that the subject of the painting be right in the middle of the canvas. This is one of the key things that people recognize first about Impressionist works, as the subject of the painting is almost never truly centered in the work. The sense of wind, motion, or speed might also be captured in the scene in the painting.

Movement and uncentered subject matter is still a facet of the modern Impressionist movement, and you will find that nearly all Impressionist artists still adhere to this value that became part of the original Impressionist movement in the late 19th century.

7.    Most Impressionist Paintings Are Concerned With Everyday Scenes

Most Impressionist paintings are concerned with everyday scenes and people. When the movement was first gaining popularity, this was unique and unusual. Most paintings at the time were done from still life subject matter or were portraits of famous people done to satisfy patrons that were paying artists for their work. Impressionism used landscapes and the activities of everyday people as its subject matter, which was a new and exciting difference from previous painting styles.

Today, everyday scenes and landscapes are still some of the most popular things that are used as subject matter by modern Impressionist painters. You will find that most Impressionist works are not even concerned with making the scene appear idyllic, instead, the works are intended to capture the sense of motion and light that was present at the time that the painting was being created.

Recognize impressionist artwork

8.      Most Impressionist Artworks are in Conservative Painting Sizes

The size of Impressionist paintings is often modest when compared to other painting styles. These are not paintings that are meant to be hung up to cover a whole wall, and they are not intended to be full portrait size either. Monet used to paint on several small canvases on the same day, allowing him to capture the changing light of the day from the same vantage point as he worked. Today’s modern Impressionist painters might work with a larger canvas but almost always adhere to a smaller painting style for their works of art.

9.      Contrasting Colors Are One Way to Identify Impressionist Art

In some Impressionist pieces, colors will be used that are in sharp contrast to one another. This might be an orange boat on the water in a scene or a colorful outfit on someone in the painting, which is much brighter than the overall palette of the painting. These kinds of sharp color contrasts are not common to all Impressionist painters, but they can be quite indicative of certain painters within this genre. Some painters who follow the modern Impressionist movement will actually create entire works of art that are made with sharply contrasting colors. This can be a key and defining feature of some Impressionist works, and you should have your eyes peeled for this possible styling choice when looking for Impressionist art.

Recognize impressionist painting

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Impressionism is Still One of the Most Important Art Styles in the World

Impressionism was a very important art movement in its day, and it continues to have a big impact on the art world even today. There are many Impressionist painters who continue to expand and change what is considered to be an Impressionist work, making new and exciting art available to everyone who loves this kind of imagery. If you love the colors and the light and movement that is embodied in Impressionist art, you should now be able to look for other key factors that indicate that a painting is, in fact, an Impressionist piece.

Impressionist art can offer a soothing and peaceful look at the daily lives of people, or it can capture beautiful scenery like a quality photograph. When you decide to add Impressionist works to your home or business, you can transform a boring space into a room that is full of life and light. Impressionism is one of the most sought-after art styles for private collections, and it is easy to see why this art style is still so relevant, even after so many years.