Techniques of Impressionism - Brushes and Brushstrokes
The term borsses referred to hogs' hair or bristle brushes. These stiff brushes were popular for handling broader masses and even detail, in oil paint. Pinceau was used to designate fine, usually sable or marten hair brushes for fluid outlines, details and finishings. They were usually round and exploiting the natural taper and spring of the hair, curving in to a fine point.The metal ferrule was an invention crucial to nineteenth-century oil painting. It replaced the bird's quill as a receptacel for th ebunched hairs that formed the ends of brushes. The ferrule made of tin made it possible for the first time to produce flat brushes. The brush size, width, length of bristles and shape of tip could now be varied. The blaireau or blender was a flat wide or fanshaped brush equipped with long springy badger hair and was used to blend on more freshly applied colours. It was associated with a precise and minute technique.
Robert advised perpendicular brush strokes for the reflections, horizontal
ones for the highlights of sky reflected in the water surface; the nearer the
water came to the foreground, the larger the brush strokes that should be used
to represent it. This can be seen in Autumn at Argenteuil and was used
estnesively by Monet in his water lily paintings. In Renoir's Boating on the
Seine at Asnieres (1879) the moving water surface is characterized by agitated
brush strokes, zig- zagged or mainly short horizontal dashes. The 'comma'
brushstroke is also used in this painting. The size shape and direction of
brush-stroke, the degree of its focus, its crispness as against meltedness or
sfumato effect are crucial to the spatial and textural impact of the painting.