Lineage of Impressionism

In 1981, Henry Hensche [1901-1992] “opened my eyes” by introducing me to Monet’s impressionist tradition of seeing and painting color with the influence of light. Hensche, who had assisted famed American Impressionist Charles Hawthorne [1872-1930] at the Cape School of Art since 1930, changed the way I perceived shadows, which were no longer dark shapes but were filled with color. I also learned that conveying the shape of objects was accomplished through the interaction of colors. And as the colors changed, so did the form. Hensche changed forever the way in which I see color, helping me understand the fundamental principles of impressionism.

The Effect of Light on Color

Impressionsim, which has come to mean “the effect of light on color,” demands that the artist pay conscious, careful attention to what she sees and how she sees it. Like playing scales on the piano, practice is critical to understanding and expressing both how light creates color and how color notes convey light. I struggle against formulas and try to keep a fresh eye when exploring the color of each scene. That’s why I continually do outdoor studies, and why I stop work on a painting when the light changes, returning to it only when the weather and light conditions are the same.


I begin by quickly putting down color notes in an abstract series of shapes. Using a palette knife or a brush, I mix the colors directly on the painting surface and study their relationships to one another.  I move from big masses of color to smaller spots, refining forms and shapes through values (light and dark) as I go along.

Celebrations of Mood

Color that expresses the light key of nature can make even the most mundane subject strikingly beautiful. My paintings could be called “celebrations of mood,” and I often go back to the same location at different times of the day in order to capture its mood in literally a whole new light. Windows and doorways both hold back and let in light. They intrigue me, as do shadows, which take on an “objectness” even though they are insubstantial. Shifting light is my passion—whether it entices you along a dappled California roadway, transforms a modest cottage in southern France into a castle or turns an indoor garden into a riot of sensuality.


Making the Landscape Your Own

Camille Przewodek

by M. Stephen Doherty

Students often want formulas to help them paint," says Camille Przewodek. "But they must learn to observe what happens in nature and respond with a knowledge of how paints perform. As soon as they think they have found a formula for painting skies, water, and grass, they confront a situation in which the formula doesn't correspond to what they actually see. It takes a lot of work and insight to understand what is actually occurring in nature at one moment in time."

One of the best ways to gain this skill and insight, according to Przewodek, is to paint the same landscape on successive days and observe the …

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American Artist Magazine:

Cover & Feature Article — December 2002

Colorist Links

My husband, Dale Axelrod


Click here to download an excellent 193-page treatise on Hensche’s method of Color Study by one of his top students, G.T.Thurmond (4.9mb, pdf)

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