Where Would You Go?

As part of my art journaling this month, I’m exploring the concept of new dimensions. That’s the theme that ties together the different mixed media projects for November at Let’s Make Art. And just a reminder here… you don’t have to be a subscriber to any of their art boxes in order to view and follow along with the video tutorials offered. You’ll find tutorials for watercolor projects, special projects for young artists, and, of course, art journal projects.

In my art journaling, I’m choosing to focus on art itself rather than on personal thoughts, feelings, and reflections, so I’m currently exploring the new dimensions as they relate to art. Dimension in art can have two very different meanings.

First, dimension can relate to measurements. Two-dimensional drawings have height and width. These are simple shapes. We turn these shapes into forms by adding a third dimension — depth.

Dimension, however, can also refer to a quality or feature. There’s so much to explore here! Different styles, different influences, different times and places… each of these can inspire us and add new dimensions to our art.

A recent project was titled Magic Portal, and while the project itself wasn’t one I liked a lot, I did enjoy the questions that went along with it.

“If you could open a magic door and transport yourself to a real place on earth, or even to a different time period, where or when would you go? What would you do there? Who would you like to see?

Most journal artists are thinking of a very real world, wanting to travel to the future to gain knowledge, or going back to the past to visit relatives who are no longer living. I changed the prompt a bit to step away from the personal aspect to the wider world of art.

“If I could open a magic door and transport myself to a place in the art world — even to a different time period — where and when would I go? What would I do there? Who would I like to see?”

Of course, my immediate answer was to visit with my new-found art love, George Inness. I thought I would want to spend time with him, discussing art, watching him paint, listening and learning as much from him as possible.

But then I got sidetracked. While researching Inness and his influences, I discovered the paintings from the original Barbizon school of artists, including Jules Dupre. These artists were part of Romanticism, and the school takes its name from the village of Barbizon in France, a village situated near the Forest of Fontainbleau. Many of the artists gathered there for plein air painting in the forest.

And that is where I would go. The moment I saw this painting, I knew that as much as I might love George Inness, I wanted to go back in time to visit Jules Dupre first.

I want to sit here beneath this magnificent oak — right next to that cow — and I want to sketch the trees, the clouds, the grassy earth.

The prominent features of art from the Barbizon school include tonalism, color, loose brushwork, and an overall softness of form. These are all things I love, things which I’m learning to incorporate into my own landscape painting.

The original Barbizon school artists from France did have a strong influence on American landscape painters of the time (1830s through 1870s). You may often read about the American Barbizon school which included many painters who were also part of the Hudson River school of landscape painting. Yes, my beloved George Inness is included as part of the American Barbizon school, and he was highly influenced by the work of French Barbizon artist Theodore Rousseau.

I’m having a wonderful time exploring the different art movements and artists that influenced Inness and his fellow American landscape painters, and for now I’m loving the thought of imaginatively visiting the Forest of Fontainbleau. I’ll pack a delicious lunch, spread out a blanket, and sit beneath the trees. I’ll watch Dupre and other artists as they paint, and maybe now and then I’ll be so bold as to ask a question of them. Maybe I’ll even join them for a bit of plein air art. In my dreams, anything can happen, you know.

So, that’s precisely where — and when — I would go in my art journey, if I could actually travel through some magic portal to another time and place. How about you? Is there a favorite artist you’d like to meet? A particular art movement you’d like to be part of? Would you visit the Old Masters, or would you dream of going off to the future to see where art might go in coming years?

I’d love to hear your answers!

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