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The colourful world of Henri Edmond Cross

In this tutorial you will discover the work of French artist and printmaker Henri Edmond Cross. His style is vibrant, colourful and expressive ~ perfect for painting a summer landscape!

Cross was working just after the great Impressionists and he was heavily influenced by the way they represented colour and light. Henri’s style actually falls under ‘Neo-Impressionism’ which includes the ‘Pointillist’ style’ (the use of small dots of pure colour to build up an image). Henri began using the 'Pointillist' style, using dabs of oil paint to build up his canvas. 'Pines Along The Shore' Oil on canvas 1896 (right).

You can see this 'Pointillist' technique in the close up section below.

Like all artists, Henri continued to push his ideas forward, gradually adapting this technique and moving towards the use of broader, more expressive strokes.  Working in watercolour, his application of paint looks more spontaneous and his longer, directional brush strokes create a mosaic-like style. The small white spaces between his strokes give his work more vibrancy as the colours sparkle on the paper. This gives his paintings a greater sense of dynamism, whilst the clearly defined brush strokes amplify the idea of the artists’ direct involvement (an idea which would have once been unthinkable).

Did you know that looking at the work of another artist and recreating their use of colour and style is a traditional way of learning how to paint? Back in the Renaissance period it was customary for the Master painters to take on an apprentice, and train them in their highly skilled techniques. Once the apprentice had mastered the skills, they would continue their own artistic journey, developing their ideas and style.

This way of learning remains an excellent way to really understand techniques. Although you can learn a lot by just looking at a painting, it's not until you start to replicate it that you really begin to understand the artists' colour palette, their approach, techniques and process. It’s important to remember, that copying another artist is a useful way to learn new skills (especially if you are a beginner), but just like the apprentices of the past, it’s important to take those skills and develop them as you continue to find your own style and approach.  Note: making a copy of another artists work and selling it is an infringement of copyright.

In our version of ‘Pines on the Coastline’ we will look at our use of colour. As Henri's colour palette is not documented you will need to investigate your own colours and find ones that are similar in hue and vibrancy. This alone is a great way to get to know your colour palette and learn how to mix new colours. If you have painted yourself a colour chart for the paints you own, you can use this as a good starting point.

Next we will look at how he has applied the paint, thinking about his use of brush marks, looking at how some colours appear overlapped and other colours appear to be blended together on the surface.

Learning how to unpick a painting into its basic elements will allow you to understand the structure and will give you clues about how to recreate it ~ this will also help you to think about how you structure your own paintings.

To find out more about this project take a look at the short video below.

I hope you enjoy trying out this tutorial, just mixing these lovely bright colours will boost your mood!

Once you have mastered the techniques, why not develop your own colour palette and create your own landscape. You might even find some inspiration on your holidays this year!

Happy Painting!

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