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“The Impressionist Palette” is an educational art applet that Elena created for Introduction to Computational Media at ITP. The applet seeks to not only explore what we know about the Impressionists, but also to show the paintings and painters in an entirely new light.
In “The Impressionist Palette,” the user is able to paint with the Impressionists’ work, revealing some of the Impressionists’ seminal paintings nearly pixel by pixel. By limiting the reveal of the work to the size of the brush, I have forced the user to look at the paintings stroke by stroke. In seeing the paintings as pieces rather than a whole — the user will be able to focus on the technique of the paintings in a whole new way, seeing how the individual color choices and brush techniques create the larger image.
When the user selects the signature of one of the 9 painters, he or she will begin to reveal a famous work by that artist. By clicking on another signature, he or she will be able to switch paintings entirely. Instantly, the user will have gone from exploring Monet’s “Impression, Sunrise” to Mary Cassatt’s “Tea.” By ‘painting’ small sections of the different artworks side by side, not only is the user re-mixing the works themselves, but her or she is also exploring subtle comparisons in technique among artists of the same school. While Mary Cassatt\’s palette reveals masterly manipulation of porcelain, pastel skin, Monet’s larger strokes paint the sea with choppy emotion. To further enhance the understanding of the array of skills the Impressionists used– the painters will actually speak to the user while he or she is painting. Cezanne comments on line and color, Degas on capturing facial expressions and Manet on observation, all while the user is seeing these very techniques play out at the end of their own brush.
In the end, the user will have used any combination of 9 major Impressionist works to create something entirely new, while coming to understand the philosophies of the painters in practice and in speech. “The Impressionist Palette was featured in the ITP 2011 Winter Show.