Robin Urton: dimensional paintings on glass



Claude Monet

Self Portrait

Impression, Sunrise 1872

Claude Monet became the "Father of Impressionism" when he exhibited this painting of a boating scene at sunrise. His manner of painting with loose brushstrokes and bright colors in a sketchy manner prompted a writer to mimic the title in a newspaper essay. Calling him an "impressionist" was meant to be an insult, but the term stuck because it fit the ideals of the artist and his followers.

The Impressionists in general are known for painting out of doors in a direct and painterly manner. It is a movement which had its beginnings in Paris among a group of artists who knew each other. Though Monet's early paintings of this style often include figures, he soon discovered that it was the landscape which most captured his interests.


Poplar Trees Series:

Monet often painted the same subject over and over again, coming back to a scene to observe the changing light and weather conditions. Above is a cluster of poplars painted along the Epte River in 1891. Below are some samples of the many paintings he created on the subject of the Houses of Parlaiment. You will notice, in this case, that the composition is almost exactly the same - but that the changing colors are a result of different times of day and lighting conditions. One might easily say that he is not painting the Houses of Parlaiment at all. The buildings merely provide the composition, but the true subject is light and color.

The Houses of Parlaiment Series:






Waterlilies at Giverny



Monet's most famous series of paintings are those which occupied his later years of life. After achieving fame for his earlier paintings, Monet secluded himself to his garden at his home in Giverny, France. There, he had a waterlily pond and a Japanese bridge. The earlier paintings of this series usually include the gardens or the bridge, but the later works focused on the lily pads,flowers and reflections of the sky in the water. By ridding the compositions of a horizon line, the artworks become much more abstract. In addition, these paintings are generally much larger than the previous ones. To observe them is to fall into a mass of colors and dissolving forms. Only when backing up does the viewer even perceive the forms of the lily pads. I have noticed that the flowers are painted with much thicker paint than the rest, which helps them to jump out from the painting.




August Renoir


The Theater Box, 1874

Irene, 1875


Renoir was a painter of people. Like Monet, he was interested in light and how it defined the passing moment - but he rarely painted without images of people enjoying themselves. It is important to note that these are always modern people. They are his contemporaries: primarily middle-class Parisians enjoying their leisure time in outdoor or cultural events. It is part of the Impressionist aesthetic that he was interested in the changing moment: the sense that everything is about to change if you were to look away and bring your eyes back to the scene. The dappling lights and shadows, the chatter of conversations, and Parisian music emanate from his canvases.


Dance at Bougival, 1883


Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1881

Detail from Luncheon of Boating Party


One of the most enjoyable aspects of Renoir's paintings is his feather-light brushstroke. A detail of the glasses from the Boating Party reveals that he never painted with distinct outlines, but with a wispy stroke that just barely captures the form. As with many impressionist artworks, the forms are clearer from a distance and seem to de-materialize on close scrutiny.


Renoir's favorite subjects were women. Whether clothed or unclothed, Renoir's women always have a fleshy softness and sweet expressions. Rosy-cheeked children also frequently occupy his canvases. One cannot help but question if the world Renoir percieved was really as sweet and pretty as the one he presents to us. Renoir chose to concentrate on images that were cheerful and bright, and full of optomism.