Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Tonalist Landscape, work in progress, Jan Blencowe

copyright 2009, Jan Blencowe, Connecticut, USA
acrylic on linen, 20x24
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Caution Construction Zone!

Welcome to the studio! This is my latest tonalist landscape painting, a work in progress.

I began this painting with a tiny ACEO size (2.5in. x 3.5 in) watercolor study. You can see it tacked up on the mast of the easel above the painting. This little study combines compositional elements from two previous paintings and a warm earthy color palette of olive greens, ochres, earth reds, and dusky purples.

This painting September Field II, provides the compositional device of plowed rows in a field, which capitalizes on perspective lines to draw the viewers eye into the pictorial space. This is the same device I use in todays work in progress in the distance, though it might be a little hard to see in the small photo of today's work in progress.

This is a very recent painting from just last week. I liked the "U" composition with the large trees and foliage framing the lighter distant view.

I sketched this composition onto the canvas using thinned transparent red oxide and then sealed the surface with Chroma's binder medium. This is what I took with me to the Manchester Art Association last Wednesday evening to use as my demonstration piece.

After a brief explanation of tonalist painting, what it is and how it fits into the history of landscape painting I started right in on my painting demo.

The first thing I did was to establish the under painting (imprimatura) using transparent red oxide. I decided to deviate from the small watercolor and keep the foreground in shadow to heighten the impact of the sunlit farm fields in the distance. During the demo I was able to lay in the sky, a cloud pattern, and block in the deep greens for the trees. I began developing the smaller tree on the left, using three values of greens toned down with red. I was also able to demonstrate applying a yellow glaze to the lit side of the tree creating some glowing rim light. I was also able to glaze part of the bright blue sky with transparent red oxide to create moody atmosphere and add a yellow ochre scumble to some of the clouds to create the impression of sunlight on the clouds and to soften them and create a gauzy effect.

I've worked on this for an additional two days in the studio successively adding and obscuring detail as I develop the areas of tree foliage. I've also added six or so layers of scumble and glaze in the sky bringing warmer hues into the clouds and emphasising atmosphere.

There is still much work to be done in the foreground developing the rocks on the left and building up grassy texture and topography. The lower shrubby foliage also still needs quite a bit of development.

Once all that is done, the sky and the overall atmosphere will need to be worked on a final time to push the glow and the sense of air.

I often listen to music while I paint, selecting the piece specifically to inspire and match the mood of what I am creating. The painting I'm working on right now was inspired by the achingly beautiful piano piece, Thanksgiving, by George Winston. You can listen to it here
and see if you think the mood of the painting captures the mood of the music.

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Hudson River Landscapes Show
I have 5 paintings in this exhibit.
Dominican College, Sullivan Library, 1st fl. in the west wing of Rosary Hall
470 Western highway
Orangeburg, NY
Opening Sunday Nov. 1st, through Nov. 20th, 2009

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