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What is Post-Impressionism?

An art movement that started in France in the 1880s

The artists working during this time each had their own style but they were all working with a similar goal in mind and that was to allow the artists to express their inner feelings and connect with the viewer in a more meaningful way. This was a new idea, most art being created before this time focused on depicting the world around them without being personal. The post-impressionists used color and shape as a way to express themselves and the world around them. 


The work of the post-impressionists were very important for art movements that would come after them such as cubism and abstract expressionism. 


Project 1: Inspired by Suzanne Valadon

Here's one of the activities from our full Post - Impressionism Art Guide. Click the button below to purchase the full study.

Meet Suzanne Valadon

Suzanne Valadon is not as well known of an artist, mostly because she was a woman working during a time that was difficult for women to have careers. But Valadon had a strong personality and worked hard to create the life she wanted.


Even as a young girl, Valadon had a passion for art. She would find a way to draw anywhere she could, including on the pavement with a lump of coal. Needing to make money, at 15 she became an acrobat for the circus but had to leave after being injured. After her short lived career in the circus, she decided to devote herself to art. Wanting so badly to become an artist but without the funds to attend art school, she began modeling for artists to start learning what she could from them. 

Born: 1865 in France
Create some art
Warm up

Valadon preferred to work in charcoal, partly because painting was expensive. She would quickly sketch out and capture various poses of the people around her. Grab some charcoal and a notebook and practice sketching out the people around you in different poses. Don’t worry about things being perfect, these should be quick, gesture sketches- meaning you should just quick mark down the lines of your model. The more you practice sketching people the better you will get. 


For this project you will make your own simple etching. The real process of creating an etching is pretty complicated and involves using special materials but you can still experience etching into something to learn more about what it might have been like.


You will need a piece of paper (cardstock is best), oil pastels, paintbrush, black paint, and something to etch with - like a toothpick, wooden skewer, or even the back of your paintbrush would work.  


First use your own pastels to fully cover your paper, make sure no white is showing. You can use a mixture of colors or just one, its up to you. Then use your black paint and paint over the oil pastels, again make sure the whole page is covered. Once that dries use your etching tool to scratch onto the paper. Do a little test in the bottom corner to see what happens. Then etch your final piece inspired by the figure sketches that you did during your warm up. 

One artist she became friends with was Edgar Degas, who was a very well known artist. He saw Valadon’s talent and continued to mentor her. He also taught her etching, a technique that allowed artists to create prints from a metal plate that the artist would scratch their piece into. 


One thing that Valadon drew and painted a lot was people, especially women. Her work was considered to be pretty shocking actually because she would depict women in the nude, something that was very uncommon for female artists to do. She influenced many female artists after her, encouraging them to realistic depict themselves and other women.


Towards the end of her career she had her first solo exhibition and exhibited in a lot of shows.  By the end of her life she had completed around 300 drawing, 450 oil painting, and 30 etchings. 

(Click on the images below to see them full sized)

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