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The Calm of Broken Color

Updated: May 31, 2021

Aah... Impressionists painters ... what I love most ...

The technique, Broken Color, is when an artist applies colors to a painting in small strokes but does not blend them. Instead, the colors blend optically rather than literally.

The effects of "Broken" Color are known to soothe you and create serenity.

In the painting below, 1886 impressionism painter, George Seurat, developed a technique in Broken Color called Pointillism which uses small, distinct dots of color patterns to form an image.

Another impressionist, Claude Monet used a series of small strokes of Broken Color, shown below in his Water Lilly painting.

With Monet's use of small strokes, it's often difficult to make sense of his paintings when you look at them up close - they appear like nothing more than a mess of scattered color.

But as you step back, it all seems to come together.

In my painting below, the technique of Broken Color inspired me.

I achieved Broken Color by using a cross-hatching pattern, and at times, scraping my palette knife through the thick paint to reveal the layers of color beneath. Notice those textures in the close-up below.

Broken Color is a style that makes you feel at peace with the moment.

I call my style: Sister Impressionism.

All these years of creating art, and I've seldom shared the name for what I create. Well, I call my painting style this: "Sister Impressionism."

For well over a century, pure Impressionism has been about impasto layering, loose brushwork, and accurate use of the elements of light. Think Monet, think Van Gogh.

Now, think of my longtime techniques, especially in oil. I’m a younger sibling in that school of art.

True, I have long employed the thick dabs of paint, but I primarily use a palette knife. Brushwork I generally reserve for bodies of water and other flat areas in a scene. I also begin with a light source and quality and intensity, but very soon during execution, standing before the canvas, color quickly informs my direction, unleashing my heart and hands into an energetic, often surprising final composition.

That color experience in the process is my "Sister Impressionism" at work.

Click here to view additional paintings which radiate tranquility from the use of Broken Color.


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