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Art of Impressionism: A Love Letter

The Modernization of the Impressionist Brushstroke

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Impressionism dates all the way back to famed master, Monet (1840-1926). As the story goes, Claude Monet called his painting depicting the French harbor of Le Havre Impression, Sunrise. Later, art critic Lois Leroy attempted to insult Monet’s unconventional style by calling it “Impressionism.” Monet and other artists that shared his extraordinary view of the world embraced the title and called themselves Impressionists.

Impression, Sunrise by Claude Monet           

One of the main characteristics which separated Impressionism from Romanticism and Realism is that you can easily see the brushwork in Impressionism. This visible brushwork sets Impressionism apart and is one of the many factors that made this style the launching point of all modern art.

Impressionist painters of the past often used short, layered brushstrokes to create texture and depth in their paintings. This is where past masters and the modern Impressionist painter Erin Hanson diverge. As Hanson works, she practices an economy of motion not seen by past masters. For example, one length of an ocotillo may by created in a brushstroke by Hanson, while the traditional, “classical” impressionist would paint in small strokes or even dots. 

Motion of Ocotillo by Erin Hanson      

Erin Hanson celebrates the movement of lithe tree branches, plays with the hazy outline of mountains in the distance and rejoices in swaying palms with one swift brushstroke. The urgency of such a stroke captures the vibrant nature surrounding her as she paints her way around the West Coast.

Falling Color by Erin Hanson
Borrego Reds by Erin Hanson

Dawning Clouds by Erin Hanson  

By changing the standard Impressionism brushstroke from short, thick spurts of color to minimalistic stretches of paint, Erin Hanson has modernized the face of a style that has gently evolved for over one hundred and fifty years. Her new take on Impressionism revives the movement while still deeply paying respects its past.

To see more of Erin Hanson’s paintings and to observe her minimalistic style, be sure to take a look at the Erin Hanson portfolio.




ERIN HANSON has been painting in oils since she was 8 years old. As a young artist, she worked at a mural studio creating 40-foot-tall paintings on canvas, while selling art commissions on the side. After getting a degree in Bioengineering from UC Berkeley, Erin became a rock climber at Red Rock Canyon, Nevada. Inspired by the colorful scenery she was climbing, she decided to paint one painting every week for the rest of her life. She has stuck to that decision ever since, becoming one of the most prolific artists in history. Erin Hanson's style is known as "Open Impressionism" and is now taught in art schools worldwide. With thousands of collectors eagerly anticipating her work and millions of followers online, Hanson has become an iconic, driving force in the rebirth of contemporary impressionism.

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