Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Impressionist (1844-1919)
Here is the next artist and the slide show. This will be a great project! Have fun with the kids, creating art!
· Impressionism – A style of art developed in France during the late 19th century that focuses on unmixed primary colors, small brush strokes, and use of light to convey visual reality. Impressionist paintings often give a sense or feeling of the subject… They may not look exactly real, but you can tell what it’s supposed to be.
· Contrast – In art, contrast refers to opposite. The difference in color and light between parts of an image. Examples: Light/shadow, or opposite colors.
· Complementary Colors – Colors that are across from each other on the color wheel. These colors are opposites and they contrast. (Yellow/Purple, Orange/Blue, Red/Green)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Impressionist (1844-1919)
Pierre-Auguste Renoir (p’YAIR, o-GOOST, run-WAR) was born in Paris, France in 1844. His father was a tailor who used chalk to mark the clothes he sewed. Renoir would find the bits of chalk his father left around and would draw on the walls and floors of his home. Renoir’s father would get upset when his marking chalk disappeared, but he had to admit that his son’s drawings were pretty good!
At the age of 13, Renoir began painting floral designs on china. He later studied at an art studio with other young artists including Claude Monet. He and these other young artists developed a style of art called Impressionism.
Impressionists paint small dabs of primary colors right next to each other. Instead of the artist mixing the colors together, our eyes blend them. The artists paint quickly, without much detail.
Spring Bouquet, 1866
This was an early painting by Renoir, done when he was 24. The Impressionist technique had not yet evolved when he painted this picture. The flower petals and leaves are separate and distinct. However, this painting glows with light indicating Impressionism was just around the corner. Impressionists often painted outdoors, so they could show the magic effect of light upon color.
Which side of the painting is the light coming from? Do you see a shadow?
The light appears to be coming from the left side of the canvas because there are shadows on the right side. Also notice the bits of dark colors alongside the bright whites… these colors show contrast.
La Grenouillere (The Frog Pond), 1869
In the summer of 1869, Renoir and his good friend Claude Monet set up their easels together at a popular resort near Paris, and began to paint, each in his own style and each with a slightly different view. These paintings are considered some of the very first Impressionist paintings, and Renoir’s friend would also become a very well-known artist. The larger painting is by Renoir, the smaller is by Monet.
The name of each painting, La Grenouillere (la gren-OO-lair), means “frog pond” although strangely enough, the body of water next to the restaurant did not have any frogs!
Although the two pieces look slightly different, they have some things in common. Each presents a casual moment of daily life – The people are not posing. We can see the brushstrokes, the use of varied and contrasting colors, and the use of light. We can see the areas where the light is hitting, and how it creates shadows and reflections. Notice how dark each picture is in the foreground and how light the trees are in the background.
Can you see the reflections of the people in the water? How about the tree? Can you see contrast in the ripples of the water?
Moulin De La Galette, 1876
This large painting is Renoir’s most famous masterpiece (moo-LON day la GOL-ett). He worked on it for 1 ½ years. This was a dance hall near Paris where young people went on Sunday afternoons to chat and dance. Renoir loved to paint his friends, and all the people in this work were his friends, models, writers, or fellow Impressionist artists.
Here the whole scene is made up of contrasting colors…sunlight and shade artfully blurred into the figures themselves. There is no boundary and we seem to be within the picture itself and part of the action.
What color do you see most?
It appears to be black, however there is no black at all in this painting. The dark shadows, coats and hats are shades of blue which in fact look black because they contrast with the natural light.
Luncheon of the Boating Party, 1879
Renoir was always viewed as a fun, friendly, and easy going person with good will. He liked being with people and enjoyed the things around him. He is best known for his pleasant paintings of everyday situations and happy surroundings…young girls, children, flowers, and joyful, informal gatherings. In the previous painting, he used a lot of darker colors, but he was known for his use of bright, warm, happy colors.
The figures in this painting are larger and fewer than in the previous painting. There is a great feeling of animation… the movement of hands and faces and in the fluttering of the awning.
Do the people in this picture look like they are friends?
Yes, they look like they are talking and having a good time. Renoir’s future wife, Aline, is the lady on the left with the dog. They married in 1890, had 3 sons, and were married for 25 years. The man facing her sitting backwards on this chair was a painter friend of Renoir’s.
Did Renoir carefully pose all these people to paint their portrait?
No. He painted them as they were talking and eating and enjoying themselves. But, he did plan a path for our eyes to follow. We start with this man’s arm on the left leaning against the railing. We continue to the woman’s arm across the table to the arms of the two men. We notice all the interesting faces across the top of the picture. We follow the woman’s arm on the railing. And that brings us back to the first man. Renoir planned the path so that you would notice everything in the painting.
Oarsmen at Chateau, 1879
Boating and water related activities were very popular French hobbies. This type of subject matter was well-suited for the Impressionists because they could show the sparkling and contrasting effects of light on water. We also see the use of complemetary colors to show contrast in this painting.
What examples of contrast can you see in this painting?
Some examples: The orange boat and blue water contrast. (complementary colors) The dark blue and white areas on the water contrast. (light/shadow). The white ruffle on the woman’s skirt and the shadows on her skirt contrast, as does the man’s white jacket and his dark pants. (dark/light)
Do you think this painting looks like spontaneous (not-planned) moment captured on canvas?
Yes, it’s as if someone had a camera and took the picture before they all got on the boat. Impressionists were famous for this style of painting.
The Doge’s Palace, Venice, 1881
Renoir was known for painting figures or people… even most of his landscapes have a emphasis on the human element. However, during his travels, Renoir did several pure landscape paintings. While in Venice, Italy, he did this wonderful painting of the palace.
Can you see any people in this painting?
Yes… look at the boats. But the figures in the boats have been reduced to dark contrasting dabs of paint blending in with the sparkling water.
Look closely at the water. How many colors do you see?
We can see almost every color, and we can clearly see that he used dabs of paint, but the impression it gives is “water”.
The Swing, 1876 and Girl with a Hoop, 1885
Here are 2 more happy paintings.
In The Swing, notice how Renoir has created a joyful feeling by using bright colors.
What are the white spots on the painting?
It’s the light shining down through the trees. The sun filters through the trees above and creates dark and light areas on the people and ground. Colors change when the sun shines on them… Dark blue becomes light blue or even white!
What parts of this painting show contrasting color?
The woman’s light dress with the dark bows and the man’s dark suit. The light filtering onto the walkway and the shadows of the trees on the ground. The little girl’s dress and the dark tree.
In the Girl with a Hoop, notice the there appears to be edges to the figure and objects. During this time he was trying to find a tighter drawing style but still use the Impressionist ideas of light and color. The colors are bright, but subdued…there is not much contrast…only her dark shoes and dark hair.
At the height of Renoir’s career, his health unfortunately failed him and he developed painful arthritis. Little by little the joints of his arms and legs stiffened and he was eventually confined to a wheelchair. He never stopped painting though…with brushes strapped to his wrists, he continued to paint every day until his death in 1919 at the age of 78.
Are you ready to create like an Impressionist?
Renoir loved to paint flowers. Notice these paintings… The flowers don’t look realistic, but we still know they are flowers. They look like they were done quickly, and they don’t show tiny details. There are many areas of contrast… like the green against red in the first painting, or the white against the dark blue in the second painting.
Today, we will use chalk to “paint” an Impressionist vase of flowers, and then use sugar water to create our “brushstrokes”.
And remember, just like the Impressionists, our paintings should be “vase-ish” and “flower-ish”!
Students will create chalk and sugar water floral paintings.
- White watercolor paper
- Drawing chalk
- Sugar water (1 Tablespoon sugar to 1 Tablespoon water) and small containers (1 per student)
- Black mounting paper
Step 1: Remind students to put their name and teacher’s name on the back of their paper.
Step 2: Make an outline of a vase and/or flowers with pencil
· Younger grades can choose to just create a single, large flower and stem (no vase).
· Remind the students that vases and flowers are “vase-ish and/or flower-ish”, especially since we are emulating an Impressionist style. We will have some simple flower examples up on the wall in the portable, but small details will be lost in the following steps.
· The vase and/or flowers should take up most of the page.
Step 3: Color the picture with chalk
· Lighter colors should be used first.
· Encourage the use of complementary color combinations (Blue/Orange, Red/Green, Yellow/Purple) or contrasting light and dark colors.
· Backgrounds may also be colored.
Step 4: Distribute water, and use fingers to lightly dab water onto the painting
- Tell students to rinse/re-dip fingers between colors, and dab lightly (rubbing will smear colors).
- It’s easiest to do one color at a time (ie, do all yellow areas, then blue etc).
- Water should be used sparingly – they should not create puddles on their paper.
- The sugar water will seal and brighten the chalk, and create an “Impressionist” dab-like effect.
- If flowers are hard to see, they may choose to re-outline with colors or black.
Mounting: A stack of black mounting paper will be provided in the Art Lit Portable. Please only take what you need for your class. Glue the finished drawings onto the black background, and adhere printed labels at the bottom, on the black paper.