Impressionism: Technique & Vocabulary

Artists use many kinds of tools to create the pieces you see in the Museum. Below are some common media that you will find referenced on the labels in the Impressionism: Masterworks on Paper exhibition. If you have these art supplies in your classroom, give your students a chance to experiment with them to get a sense of how the Impressionists represented in the exhibition might have used them. Can they make similar marks? Is the media easy or difficult to use?

The material onto which the media being used is placed—for the Impressionists, this was usually paper, handmade paper, cardboard, cardstock, and sometimes canvas.

Soft sticks of pigment mixed with gum (to bind the pigment to itself); think sidewalk chalk or classroom chalk.
(More on the ArtLex Art Dictionary)

Burned wood that is compressed into a stick.

Conté crayon
Graphite or charcoal mixed with wax to form a stick. (Harder than chalk.)

Essence (pronounced ess-ahnce)
Oil paint that has been thinned.

A thin varnish that is sprayed over pastel, charcoal, chalk, and other dry media to prevent smudging and smearing.

Gouache (pronounced gwash)
Highly pigmented, and opaque, watercolor.
(More on the ArtLex Art Dictionary)

The material with which you draw (a pencil, pastel, conté crayon, etc.).

Soft sticks of pigment mixed with gum (to bind the pigment to itself). (Softer than chalk.)
(More on the ArtLex Art Dictionary)

The familiar classroom tool we all know and love. Comes in different degrees of hardness or softness.

Pen/ink wash
The use of ink like watercolor.

Color, usually in powdered form from natural substances.

A kind of paint made, traditionally, from pigment mixed with eggs. Tempera dries much more quickly than oil paint.

Quick-drying pigment mixed with gum (which binds the pigment to itself) and water.
(More on the ArtLex Art Dictionary)