Copyright 2009, Jan Blencowe, Connecticut, USA
Tonalist Landscape Painting, Nocturne, October Moon,
16x20, acrylic on linen, unframed
View this painting in a sample frame on my website
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This type of tonalist landscape with its diffused light, simplicty of forms and subduing of detail may appear easy to paint but let me tell you they are some of the most difficult paintings I create.
If you compare this painting to the one in the last post you'll notice several differences and several similarities.
First, they are both tonalist paintings, focusing on a low light situation for mood and atmosphere. They both have tight color harmonies and a limited value range. The previous painting, however, has a lot of tiny detail painted in. This is because the sunset lighting provides more light than a nocturne and silouhettes the trees and foliage allowing you to see the intricate, lacy pattern of leaves at the edges of the trees and shrubs, as well as throughout the entire foliage form.
Second, the forms in the previous painting are more clearly drawn and well defined, again this is because there is more light available making more details visible.
The moonlight in today's painting only allows for hazy edges and much of the painting is enveloped in darkness. If you could see this painting in real life you would know that the areas that appear nearly black in the photo are really filled with deep, rich hues, they are not black.
While painting leafy details may take some time, it's generally more straight forward. These nearly abstract forms take layers and layers of scumbling, glazing, adding structural detail and then obscuring just the right amount. The challenge of creating deep, dark value tonal areas is also very tricky. The creation of hazy atmosphere requires quite a bit of actual scrubbing with a dry brush loaded with just enough paint. At the end of a couple of hours my arm aches!
But the results are worth it. These mysterious dark paintings are often the ones that people find the most captivating. I will say however that they don't photograph especially well, with much of the subtle luminosity lost in the photo. Still, everyone who owns one of my nocturnes is deeply attached to their painting finding a kind of comfort in the stillness of the dark.
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Bidding starts on November 5th, 2009
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