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How to Use Watercolor Impressionist Techniques

Updated November 21, 2016

Watercolour painting in an impressionist style is a popular technique that can be adapted for beginners or even children. Impressionism is one of the most famous and successful art movements of all time. It evolved as a reaction to the rigid constraints of academic art. Impressionism typically focuses on landscapes and the impression of light on the scene.

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  1. Choose an appropriate spot outdoors to paint a scene from nature. Most impressionist painters paint out in the fresh air, capturing a scene in daylight.

  2. View the scene with an eye for light and colour over shape and exact representation. Impressionism is about the impression and feeling the scene evokes, rather than direct realism. Shapes and lines emerge from the rendering of the colour and light in the image.

  3. Use the white background as the basis of the scene. Impressionism utilises light and bright colours.

  4. Use broken brushwork when painting the scene. Quick brush movement that leaves texture, rather than a smooth finished look, is the goal.

  5. Aim to finish the artwork in one sitting and with relative speed. Impressionists considered the painting finished when the light and shadows altered the scene they were painting.

  6. Tip

    If your painting appears fuzzy up close and the forms seem sharper from a distance, you have been successful with the impressionist technique.

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Things You'll Need

  • Watercolours
  • Canvas or watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paintbrushes

About the Author

Katlyn Joy has been a freelance writer since 1982. She graduated from Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville with a master's degree in writing. While in school she served as graduate assistant editor of "Drumvoices Revue" magazine.

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