Lorwen C. Nagle
Contemporary Impressionist – Symbolist Paintings

The Impressionist movement

 Understanding the Impressionistic Art Painting Style

There was scorn and outrage when impressionist painting was first seen by the public in the 19th century. People did not understand what they were seeing. To appreciate an impressionistic oil painting is to enjoy the variety of colors and values that are expressed in a number of lighting effects.


The impressionist movement encouraged artists to express skin tones with a new more colorful palette. In their paintings the impressionists often focused on the shadow notes, which are more luminous and express differences in color and tone. The use of color is alive and vital; they are not limited by formulaic color or by the confines of an interior setting.


Before Impressionism the painting style was tonalism. There are big differences between the two styles. A couple of notable distinctions that define impressionistic paintings are that, in impressionism, there is a de-emphasis on linear drawing and an emphasis on seeing large forms of light and dark before registering details in a scene. As a result, Impressionist painters have been credited with bringing an awareness to their audience of the beauty and variety of our natural world. Impressionist artists interpret light and express it with color.


Cezanne said that “there is in nature two agents that work toward harmony: they are light and air. Light colors, air envelops.” This statement describes some of the important aspects of impressionistic painting. It indicates the intellectual awareness of the negative space — the air between the positive volumes. Also, perspective in impressionist paintings grows out of the composition and canvas size rather than from mechanical rules of perspective. There is another quote by an art critic of Cezanne’s that says he gave each object in his paintings the place and size that it’s expressive quality would assign to it, rather than that which results from distance or scientific perspective-taking.


Monet discovered the visual differences among atmospheric conditions and the multiplicity of color differences from morning, afternoon, and evening light. These color differences opened up the possibility of an infinite and varied lighting effect that changes from day to day and hour to hour. Monet’s discoveries freed the landscape painter to paint on location in a variety of settings.


Today, impressionism is fully embraced by both artist and art lovers. It represents the love of color and light in oil paintings we see today.


My grandmother, Era Gem Merrimanwas a professional artist and sparked my love of art at a young age. However, after a year of fine arts training in college,I decided instead to pursue a science education and received my doctorate in Psychology in 1986 from the University of Texas. In 2006, I left my academic career  to revisit my passion for art and nature.


My impressionist style has been compared to Berthe Morisot, one of the early French Impressionists, but I definitely see myself as a symbolist painter. My background as a psychologist and my work with the Tibetans has guided my appreciation of archetypal symbols in the natural landscape. My unique process imbues my paintings with a living spirit.