Claude Monet has been rightfully described as “the driving force behind Impressionism.” Dedicated to understanding the effects of light and color on objects, and of the juxtaposition of colors with each other, he obtained the groundbreaking insights that lesser artists would merely apply.
Settling in Argenteuil (a northwest suburb of Paris) in aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War, he constructed a floating studio that allowed him to paint en plein air from the surface of the water. Painting the Seine under a varying atmospheric conditions, he achieved a greater understanding of the effects of light on water, and began to think in terms of colors and shapes, rather than scenes and objects.
“When you go out to paint,” he advised a fellow artist, “try to forget what objects you have before you, a tree, a house, a field or whatever. Merely think here is a little square of blue, here an oblong of pink, here a streak of yellow, and paint it just as it looks to you, the exact color and shape, until it gives your own naïve impression of the scene before you.”