Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Expressive Color-laden Light of Tonalism

The Hourglass of Spring, 20x24, acrylic on linen, Jan Blencowe, copyright 2011

This is the finished painitng from the demo I gave last Sunday at Maple & Main Gallery in Chester, CT Here's where I left off in the demo....


Demo paintings are always interesting when you bring them home to finish them. (the same is true for paintings you begin when taking workshops) Certainly, when you're doing a demo you don't have the luxury of peace and quiet and private concentration, on the other hand you have the advantage of having to verbalize what you're doing thus making you think more clearly about exactly what you're doing and why.( This is why it's often helpful to talk to yourself (a sign of genius!) when you're working on a painting, especially when you are working out difficult parts).

When I left off at the end of the demo I thought there would be hours and hours of work left to develop this painting, but surprisingly that was not the case. This finished up rather quickly with a good deal of the original under painting and block in from the demo remaining in the final version. I think that is a good thing as it allows the expression, energy and freshness of that first painting session to enrich the final painting.

As I continue to read A History of American Tonalism I am continually struck by the deep spiritual and philosophical underpinnings of these paintings as well as the very specific techniques used to achieve the result.

Vibration and refraction of light, the sensation of movement even in stillness, produced by the carefully applied tones of complementary or analogous colors side by side is fundamental to the Tonalist canon. The overall effect of a Tonalist canvas is of expressive color-laden light, of cool greens, grays, blues and mauves that pulse with an inner energy, a force that is as much the projection of the power of a singular vision as the record of a perceived light. ~ David A Cleveland, A History of American Tonalism:1880-1920

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