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It’s fair to say that Impressionism changed the landscape of painting. But, do you know how the movement began and who the artists involved were? In this post, the 3T Art Blog is going to delve into Impressionism and answer these questions. You’ll also be introduced to well-known artist, Darlene Winfield, who draws on Impressionism to create her amazing masterpieces.

Let’s get started. There’s a lot of info I want to share with you!

What is Impressionism?

Impressionism originated in France around 1860. It can be defined as a movement in painting which focuses on the artist’s visual impression of a moment in time. The artist’s goal is to capture the essence of their subject matter as the light and colours change. Their work becomes more of an experience instead of an accurate depiction.

Impressionistic paintings are painted quickly using broad brush strokes creating texture and most often using bright colours without much mixing.

How Did Impressionism Begin?

In 1840, John Rand invented the paint tube. This was revolutionary to art because it allowed artists to easily go outdoors to paint in the open air. We refer to this as en plein air painting. Though this approach to painting originally began with British artist John Constable around 1813, it wasn’t until the paint tube had been invented that more and more artists ventured outdoors to create. The paint tube made it easy for artists to take their paints anywhere. Creating plein air paintings was where Impressionism took a foothold.

Source: Draw Paint Academy

In the mid 1800’s, the Académie des Beaux-Arts dominated the French art scene. They were responsible for the preservation of the traditional style of French painting and had strict standards of content and style which were mostly historical and religious in nature as well as figurative. The work had to be close to what we would consider photorealistic artwork today.

Landscape and still life paintings did not meet their criteria. The Académie’s annual juried art show, the Salon de Paris, accepted only works of art representing their standards and values.

In 1860, four young painters met while studying at the Académie Suisse. They all had an interest in painting landscapes and still life. They often journeyed to the countryside to paint en plein air together. They were Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Alfred Sisley and Frédéric Bazille. These young artists enjoyed meeting at a Parisian café to discuss art with Édouard Manet, whom they admired.

In 1863, the Salon de Paris, rejected more than half of the works submitted by the group. Manet’s “The Luncheon on the Grass” was rejected because it depicted a nude woman with two dressed men and Manet was condemned for painting the nude in a contemporary setting.

Artist: Édouard Manet, “The Luncheon on the Grass”

The hold the Académie had on art changed after this exhibition. Later that year, Emperor Napoleon III decreed that the public could judge artwork for themselves and allowed the formation of the Salon des Refusés (Salon of the Refused). Sadly, many of the visitors laughed at the artist’s efforts, but the exhibition drew attention to a new style of art and more visitors attended the Salon des Refuses than had the Salon de Paris exhibition that year.

Artists again petitioned requesting other Salon des Refusés exhibitions in 1867 and 1872, but were denied.

At the end of 1873, joined by artists Paul Cézanne, Berthe Morisot, Edgar Degas and a few others, this larger group of artists whose work had been rejected over and over again by the Académie formed the Société Anonyme Coopérative des Artistes Peintres, Sculpteurs, Graveurs ("Cooperative and Anonymous Association of Painters, Sculptors, and Engravers"). Their goal was to exhibit their work independently and those artists who were members of this newly formed organization were expected to give up any association with the Académie and their Salon exhibitions.

Their first exhibition was held in 1874 and opened to mixed reviews. Critics attacked Monet and Cézanne the most severely, with one critic titling his article “The Exhibition of the Impressionists”, which was a direct stab at Monet’s painting “Impression, soleil levant” (Impression, Sunrise). He suggested in his article that their works were merely sketches and could not be considered completed artworks. They were just impressions of real artwork. The critic was actually responsible for the name by which their work and a new art movement would be known.

Artist: Monet, “Impression, Sunrise”

Famous Impressionist Painters

There have been so many notable Impressionist painters since the movement began. We’re going to stick with the original group of notable French artists in this blog post. I’m sure you’re familiar with them and their work. They all have a unique style within Impressionism and I think you’ll find their work inspiring.

Claude Monet:

Monet is considered the founder of impressionist painting. He is seen to be a key figure associated to modernism with his attempts to paint nature as he saw it. His ambition was to paint the French countryside. This lead to him painting the same scene over and over again to capture the changes of light during the day and the changing of the seasons. He's best known for his water-lily pond series which he worked on continuously for 20 years.

Artist: Monet, “Woman with a Parasol – Madame Monet and Her Son”, 1875

Source: National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Artist: Monet, “Haystacks” (Effect of Snow and Sun), 1890-1891

Artist: Monet, “Water Lilies”, 1919

Pierre-Auguste Renoir:

Renoir was a leading painter in the creation and development of the Impressionist style of art. He valued the beauty in the things and people around him as well as the feminine figure. Though Renoir had much artistic talent, he had a greater talent for singing. Due to his family’s financial situation, he was unable to continue with music and left school at the age of 13 to work as an apprentice at a porcelain factory. He was a good worker but often sought sanctuary in the galleries of the Louvre. Once his finances allowed, he began studying art.

Artist: Renoir, “Luncheon of the Boating Party”, 1880-1881

Photo: The Phillips Collection via Google Arts & Culture Public Domain

Artist: Renoir, “Bal du moulin de la Galette”, 1876

Photo: Musée d'Orsay Museum via Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

Artist: Renoir “Two Sisters (On the Terrace)”, 1881

Photo: Art Institute of Chicago via Wikipedia Commons Public Domain

Alfred Sisley:

Sisley was a British Impressionist landscape painter who spent most of his life in France. He was the most unswerving of the Impressionists, devoted to the painting of landscapes en plein air. He rarely strayed from it, only painting figurative work on occasion, unlike the others. He’s best known for his series of paintings of the River Thames and notable paintings of the Seine and its bridges in what were the suburbs of Paris. His work is characterized by pale shades of colour that increased in intensity over his career and the tranquil feel of his paintings.

Artist: Alfred Sisley, “The Bridge at Villeneuve-la-Garenne”, 1872

Artist: Alfred Sisley, “Walnut Tree in a Thomery Field”, 1880, oil on canvas

Private collection. Source: WikiArt

Artist: Alfred Sisley, “The Loing Canal”, 1884, oil on canvas

Fondation Bemberg, Toulouse, France. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Frédéric Bazille:

Bazille was one of the original group who spent days in the countryside painting plein air. Most of his major works were of figures painted within a landscape that he had painted en plein air. He came from a wealthy family and generously supported his less fortunate fellow artists with studio space and materials. Sadly, Bazille’s life was cut short when, at the age of 28, he was killed on the battlefield during the Franco-Prussian War.

Artist: Frédéric Bazille, “Family Reunion”, 1867

Artist: Frédéric Bazille, “View of the Village”, 1868

Artist: Frédéric Bazille, “Portrait of Renoir”, 1867

Source: Unknown, Public Domain,

Édouard Manet:

Manet began his career as a French modernist painter and is accredited with being one of the first artists to paint every day, modern life. He was a key in transitioning artists from Realism to Impressionism. Manet came from an upper-class household and rejected the future that had been laid out for him. He is best known for his controversial Impressionist paintings that today mark the beginning of Modern Art.

Artist: Édouard Manet, “Olympia”, 1863 – Source: Google Art Project.jpg, Public Domain

Artist: Édouard Manet, “The Races at Longchamp” 1864

Artist: Édouard Manet, “At the Café” 1879

That’s a lot of history and background on Impressionism and the artists who were key in cementing it into being. Now, let’s move on to Impressionism today.

3T Art Blog Guest Artist

Darlene Winfield – Impressionistic Oil Painter

I’d like to introduce you to Darlene Winfield, an artist I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for a long time. She’s a high-energy artist who has an emotional connection to her work for which she’s well known locally, nationally and recently, internationally.

When I first met Darlene, she was at a cross-roads. She needed to decide what direction to take her art career. Instead of painting a variety of subject matter, as she was then, she knew she needed to focus on just one subject.

In 2012, Darlene took the plunge and became a full-time artist. Landscapes were the direction she was heading in and nobody could stop her.

“It has always been a goal to become a full-time artist, and despite a long and winding road to becoming a full-time artist, it happened!”

As far as art education goes, Darlene’s classroom was the world. She’d always loved art and had taken art classes at school. When she went to college, she took business courses with electives in art and art history that took her on a tour of Greece and Italy. Afterwards, she returned to Europe and from there travelled the world to see and appreciate different cultures and artists styles.

“Visiting the museums, galleries and historical sites was invaluable. In my opinion, immersing one’s self in art around the world is an education in itself.”

Renewal - 30x60” oil on canvas

When asked about her medium, Darlene didn’t hesitate; buttery oil paint on a large sized canvas is her preference every time.

“Painting large allows me to enter the world of the painting on the easel.”

Pondering Too – 36x36” oil on canvas

Darlene works from her photographs, adding or subtracting from them in both composition and colour to suit her vision. Many times, she works with a formulated idea, as she’s been doing with her current floral series. This method completely absorbs her. There’s no predetermined composition to fall back on; no photo or crutch. It’s moved her more toward the abstract.

I believe this intuitive painting is the first step to creating abstract work. It is challenging and I find myself completely absorbed with this form of painting. The outcome of a painting done like this presents itself without being designed by real life photos or anything but where the paint lead you as an artist.”

Dancing in the Rain – 48x48” oil on canvas

Darlene’s colour palettes are connected to her emotions. Her approach is to create a series of paintings and switch up the main colours to compliment the subject matter. You will always see blue and white in her paintings. She just loves these colours and they have symbolic meanings for her.

“White is full of hope and open to anything. Space and dreams live in white for me.

Blue is a colour that I love. It encompasses all types of feelings and can visually change the mood of a painting for me.”

Exhilarating – 42x42” oil on canvas

During the start of COVID-19, Darlene created many paintings with cooler blues and greys in them. After painting the series, she realized they were somewhat quiet and reflective of the times and mirrored how she had been feeling.

“I paint emotionally and find that it affects my choices without my knowing it until I look back.”

A Quiet Look – 40x60” oil on canvas

Darlene has definitely turned a corner since then. Her Floral Series reflects her hopeful attitude: happy, loose and colourful.

Garden Party – 40x60” oil on canvas

When asked about her process, Darlene says that she’ll start by paint sketching her new idea loosely onto her canvas. She uses traditional oil painting techniques enhanced with layering to create texture. Her imagination and emotions bring her painting to life.

“I use brushes, a palette knife and my hands to work with mixed media and oil paint.”

Garden Up! – oil on canvas

In 2019, Darlene move to Peterborough, Ontario, where she could spread out and create an amazing art space for herself. From what she tells me, she prefers a minimalistic approach to her home which allows her to dedicate most of it to her art and her career. She has vast areas of studio and gallery space, and enough room to wrap and pack her large paintings for shipping.

But, when asked what her studio looked like, Darlene said:

“It is a mess! I am cleaning it up after being asked for a photo. You do know that photos on the internet never leave.”

Since Darlene embarked on being a full-time artist, she has really made a name for herself. She’s won several awards and has had more than a few write-ups in local newspapers.

Darlene has been juried into many exhibitions and art shows such as the highly acclaimed Artist Project in Toronto, the Haliburton Art Show and the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair which she’s been juried into again this year.

Another place you can find Darlene’s work is in galleries. She’s a star in many of them, both bricks and mortar and online.

Here are some of the galleries you can find her work in:

Paula White Diamond Art Gallery – Waterloo, Ontario

State of the Art – East York (Toronto), Ontario

Select Art Gallery – Newmarket, Ontario

Savvy Art – Oakville, Ontario

More of Darlene’s work:

Beach – 30x60” oil on canvas

Reflect Softly – 20x20” oil on canvas

Wave Back - 54x54” oil on gallery canvas

Dancing Light - 48x48” oil on gallery canvas

Bright and Sunny Days - 54x54” oil on gallery canvas

You can check out more of Darlene’s work on her website at

You can stay current with her work through Instagram @ darlenewinfield

If you’re interested in purchasing any of the pieces you’ve seen in this blog post or would like a commission piece, you can contact Darlene directly at:

“My biggest award is people connecting with my works.”

- Darlene J. Winfield -

Final Thoughts

I’ve really enjoyed our journey into Impressionism. I hope you have too.

Impressionism shows us that art always needs to be growing, transforming and changing. If those young artists stuck to the status quo over a century ago, would we have the option of enjoying modern art today? I wonder.

Truly, there’s no single style of art that’s better or worse than another. Artists and the viewers of art need to be allowed to decide for themselves what art they enjoy and that’s something that hasn’t changed since Napoleon’s time.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s 3T Art Blog.

See you next time!


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