At the suggestion of art friends, I’ve been watching Forger’s Masterclass videos on YouTube. The forger teaches students to paint in the style of several famous artists. My favorite is Episode 2 on André Derain, one of the Fauves (Wild Beasts) of the early 20th century. The Fauves used bold color and a deceptively simple style that built upon the loose style of the Impressionists.
The Fauves painted outdoors (en plein air), but they were about painting one’s emotional state and not being constrained by literal reality. It was an early form of expressionism and the beginning of the end of realism.
While Fauvism appears to be simple and childlike, it’s not as easy as it appears. The forger encouraged the students to make several compositional sketches using simplified shapes. Then commit to something really fast and stick with it. Plan colors in advance. Use shapes in the landscape to build a composition. Detail is not relevant. Colors are used to express emotional state and do not have to match reality. Use pure colors and bold strokes.
This class reminded me of what I want to do with my paintings. Recently I’ve been concentrating on learning to use oil paints and have felt that my colors were overly dependent on local color. So I got out my acrylics and tried out a Derain-style painting of the back yard. I decided on a composition, outlined it in blue, and filled it in quickly using several pairs of complementary colors (blue/orange, red/green). I set my inner beast free!