Thursday, January 13, 2011

Tonalism Demo

 Discussing the aesthetics and philosophy of tonalist painting...
 Sharing the colors on my palette....
 Establishing the under painting in transparent red oxide....
 Evaluating the progress....
 Adding another transparent color, French Ultramarine blue to develop the darks and shadow areas of the under painting...

On Sunday afternoon I gave a lecture & demo on Painting the Tonalist landscape at Maple & Main gallery in Chester, CT. It was well attended and a wonderful afternoon.
If you missed it and you're in CT I'll be giving a similar, though shorter presentation tonight for the Middletown Art Guild at 7pm. If you're plowed out and want to come the address is 390 Main Street (also known as Rte 157), Middlefield.  It's in a white church building with red doors.

If you only get to visit with me here on the blog that's ok because I'm going to share with you some of what I discussed during the demo. 
Take a glance at the where I left off the demo painting. it's basically at the end of the block in stage, with a little bit of distance, atmosphere and light and shadow patterns beginning to be established. It will take many more layers of scumbles and glazes to create that evocative light and mood tonalism is so well known for.

To help you grasp the underpinnings of what tonalism is about here's a handy list of 12 characteristics...

12 Characteristics of Tonalism

1.)   Subtle color tones, restful easy on the eye
   2.)   Uses symbolic form over narrative
   3.)   Depiction of atmosphere
   4.)   The movement and metamorphosis of nature
   5.)   Expressive paint handling to convey emotion
          the felt life of nature
   6.)   Embedded patterns, natural and abstract forms
          used decoratively
   7.)   Soft edged to convey ambiguity, the uncertainty
           and mystery of place known as the lost edge
           technique of the 19th century   
   8.)   Broad graphic abstract forms for emotional
           response especially when seen at a distance
  9.)   Elegiac poetry of landscape
10.)   Mystical organic relationship between the
         perceiver and the perceived
11.)  Intimate landscape of solitude, silence and
        memory, innately spiritual    
12.)  Spiritual in character and expressive of
        individual feeling

To achieve these aesthetic and philosophical goals tonalist painting employ a number of techniques...

The Technical Aspects of Tonalism
·      Value and form
Stressed over line and detail
·      Low toned palette
Earthy greens mauve violet grays
·      poetic and suggestive
·      Laying similar tones side by side subtly different hues
·      Applying cool tones over a warm
·      Colored glazes

Tonalism also draws on artists and movements from previous generations...

·      Velasquez envelope of atmosphere
·      Soft edged forms of Constable
·      Abstraction of Turner
      ·      Realism of the Barbizon School

If you'd like to explore tonalist landscapes here is a list of the best known tonalist painters...

Principle Painters of Tonalism Movement

Ralph Albert Blakelock American, 1847-1919
Thomas Wilmer Dewing  American, 1851-1938]
Robert Swain Gifford American, 1840-1905
Alexander Thomas Harrison American, 1854 -1929
Lowell Birge Harrison American, 1854-1929
George Inness American, 1825-1894
John La Farge American, 1835-1910
Arthur Frank Mathews American, 1860-1945
John Francis Murphy American, 1853-1921
Albert Pinkham Ryder American, 1847-1917
John Henry Twachtman American,1853-1902
Julian Alden Weir American,1852-1919
James Abbott McNeill Whistler American, 1843-1903

 Notice that they're all Americans. Tonalism is an American art movement that began in Boston and it was the dominant artistic style for more than four decades. Tonalism is part of the larger Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts Movement, Art Nouveau and influenced the photographers of the time including and especially Steigliz and his circle. Tonalism is also the visual expression of the Transcendentalist Movement and put into paintings what Thoreau, Emerson and Emily Dickinson put into words.

1 comment:

Katherine Thomas said...

This was very informative and easy to understand. Thank you so much! I've learned a new term today! Tonalism.