Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Touch of Tâche: the Heart of Impressionism, and a New Painting

Johan Barthold Jongkind (3 June 1819 – 9 February 1891) was a Dutch painter and printmaker who exhibited in the Paris salons. He painted in a "free" style, that is, he was unencumbered by the rigid rules of academic painting, and was a forerunner of French Impressionism. In fact, he was a mentor to Claude Monet; Monet is one of Impressionism's strongest forces, along with Degas, Renoir, Pissaro, Sisley, et al.

Johan Jongkind

The tâche (pronounced "tash") in French means spot or dab. The Impressionists, following in the footsteps of Jongkind, created their canvases with dabs and spots of colors that seemed to vibrate.

The Impressionists may have been influenced by the work of the French chemist, Michel Eugene Chevreul. Chevreul  had an important influence on the art world. He became director of the dye works at the Gobelins Manufactory in Paris and one task was to solve color problems. For instance, some colors did not separate visually. If you have a purple and a black of near value (tone) next to one another, the colors are going to meld into one color optically. The solution is to lay red and blue next to one another to create a combination that from a distance reads as purple. This is known as divisionism or pointillism.

The Neo-impressionists were more lkely to have used divisionism in a theoretical way as laid out by Chevreul. However, I can say with absolute truth that the eye can be trained to see the tâche in nature. Monet alluded to the reality of color division when he made this statement on the process of painting, "Merely think, here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it..." The tâche is the heart of Impressionism.

Spectral photography has proven that Monet did not strictly employ Chevreul's scientific theory as formerly thought (unfortunately, it continues to be parroted that the Impressionists used color theory in a scientific manner). The blues and yellows to create the green grass in a Monet painting were shadows and lights, respectively. Any impressionist en plein air painter has probably observed this same phenomenon, especially in more southern latitudes. If you observe light and shadow on a  Texas sidewalk, you will note a very strong violet shadow, depending on the time of day. Further north, the shadow will likely be blue. We certainly can employ color theory when needed however.

My latest painting uses thousands of tâches. I was inspired by an upcoming theme for a show entitled, "Homeward Bound." The piece below is from my imagination. The house is a loose rendering of the Davenport House in Savannah, GA. I am thankful that snow is a rare thing here. I'd love to paint more nocturnes. I have always loved the night.

"Going Home"
18 x 24, oil on canvas

Detail of sky with strokes of color that read as atmosphere

Detail of german shepherd with many dabs while maintaining looseness

Next: I am beginning work on a sunflower painting. In October, my family and I traveled to Dawsonville, GA to visit Faucett Sunflower Farm, home to over 900,000 sunflowers. 

No comments:

Post a Comment