Following Pissarro’s Advice

Impressionist artist Camille Pissarro

Yesterday as part of the “Art Quiz” feature on Impressionism, I shared a quote from Camille Pissarro in which he advised working on everything all at once.  The exact quote is:

“Work at the same time upon water, sky, branches, ground, keeping everything going on an equal basis and unceasingly rework until you have got it. Paint generously and unhesitatingly, for it is best not to lose the first impression.“

As I settled back into the studio following our trip from Tennessee, I drew inspiration from Impressionism as well as from the beautiful scenes of fall foliage we’d seen while traveling, and I attempted in some way to follow Pissarro’s advice.

I did follow that advice as far as “keeping everything going”, but not so much on the counsel to “unceasingly rework”. With that said, I’m not certain if this painting is finished or not. I thought I might set it aside and then go back to it, yet I’m finding myself drawn to the scene as it is. It’s not exactly what I set out to create — although it is close to my vision — yet I like the hazy “impressionist” quality. I see in this painting the sort of “vagueness” I so often feel as I play piano works by Impressionist composers. For me it’s a sense of wandering about, not knowing for sure where I’m going, and loving that quiet uncertainty. Within it are possibilities, mysteries, secrets, adventures. I look at this road and wonder where it might lead.

Tennessee Road

In some ways, I made this painting exercise as difficult as possible. This is not done on a canvas panel or even a stretched canvas. It was painted on a 12″ x 16″ canvas sheet. When painting on canvas pads, I find it extremely hard to cover the surface. If you enlarge this and look closely, you’ll see the canvas texture showing through in many places.

I approached this simply as another oil painting study, an exercise in seeing lights and shadows. The idea here was to suggest moving from darkness into light. In the end, though, it seemed that perhaps the foreground was a bit too dark. What are your thoughts on this?

This study was fun to paint. I loved playing with the color palette I used, and as with so much of my recent art study, I enjoyed the sense of freedom I felt as I painted this scene. This shows me that I am going in the direction I want to go. In many ways this painting is in itself symbolic of how I see myself as an artist. The vision of my future is a bit hazy, but I sense something bright and beautiful ahead, something I can’t yet see clearly, but something calling me onward, waiting to be discovered.



  1. Beautiful artistry and post, Judith. I have the impression from it that you have the same artistic spirit as Pissarro although a different expression. Like you, the dreamy vagueness of impressionism delights me… ‘the quiet uncertainty… possibilities… mysteries…’. This is poetry to me. Yes, I think it’s a perfect impression as is…do not try to ‘perfect’ it with your mind like overthinking a beautiful dream. I aspire to your wonderful talent as I do with so many artists we can now discover thanks to technology and play with art in my own humble ways. I’m sure you have and will continue to inspire many. Thanks for sharing. Best wishes, Shelley

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I enjoyed painting this study and found that it was a good reflection of who I am as an artist and where I’m going. But then I tried following Pissarro’s advice again this morning… with very different results. It was a great opportunity to learn who I am NOT… and tomorrow’s post shares the experience. Every day I learn more about being who I am, and that’s an interesting process.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, the Artist’s Journey is a continuous exploration and sharing with others all the ‘am’ and ‘am’ nots we create and choose in this realm of duality. We ‘mark’ our Journey. Many thanks for sharing.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s essentially working “alla prima” with oils, completing a landscape in a single session. I’m not good with this method. This quick “study” was an exception. I actually liked it when I was done.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I don’t usually work “alla prima” so this was a pleasant surprise for me. It was a bit of a fluke though. I tried another “alla prima” study on Tuesday — the subject of today’s post. It didn’t turn out quite so good, but it taught me a good lesson. The post will be publishing in about an hour if you’d like to check back and see how that “quick study” went. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

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