The Impressionist Brushstroke

The Impressionist Brush Stroke 

Monet did not use the traditional technique of applying thin glazes to build up shadow and form. Instead, his most striking effects were created using a single colour, quite thickly applied using a bold, flat and even-loaded stroke. This type of brushwork has been given the term tache, the French word for ‘blot’ or ‘stain’. The tache was the basis of Impressionist paint-handling technique and was made possible by the invention of a circular metal clamp or ‘ferule’ which allowed for the production of flat brushes – previous to this, brushes were mainly round in shape. The tache technique of paint application signalled a move away from the traditional method of blending colours on the canvas. In the foreground of this painting, ripples across water and the fall of light are articulated using even and thickly applied taches of blue, orange, and white paint.


Wet-In Wet

In the painting of foliage in this picture, pure colours straight from the tube were applied neat to the canvas, not  mixed beforehand on  the artist’s palette. Subsequent layers of paint were applied before those beneath had dried. This method of painting is termed wet-in wet.



On the right hand side of the painting very little of the priming beneath is exposed and the paint layers are thickly applied. This thicker paint is termed “impasto” and was applied with variously-sized brushes.

Details and highlights

Details and Highlights

The final details of the boat, townscape and tree-branches in the top right corner were applied delicately using a thin brush. The paint used for these details was applied particularly dry and resulted in a broken-up paint surface.