Friday, January 07, 2011

Tonalism in a Whole New Light

Persephone's Return, 20x24, acrylic on linen, Jan Blencowe copyright 2011

Oh, just realized that this is my first painting of 2011!

I am always suspicious of my paintings of spring. I have a nagging fear that they are too "sweetie-pie" yet spring is that kind of season when people fall in love, flowers bloom and birds sing. I have tried very hard not to let the pinks, peaches and lavenders run amok and yet capture that delicate softness of the season. A gentle, warm and moist atmosphere pervades the scene and capturing that particular and very pleasing scent of young grass was on my mind as I painted this. (interesting to think about portraying a scent visually)

Tomorrow I am going to switch to something new, perhaps a summer pastel or a winter scene in acrylic. Not sure what will be most inspiring. I think that will depend on how much snow greets me tomorrow morning when I wake up! I'll either be delighted by it or horrified! LOL

On Sunday, Jan. 9th , 2-4pm I am giving a talk and demo on tonalist painting at Maple & Main Gallery in Chester, CT. If you're anywhere nearby come on over it's going to be a wonderful afternoon!

I am currently reading a new (a giant 500+ pages) book about American Tonalism. I pre-ordered it from Amazon ages and ages ago and it finally came just before Christmas, so I wrapped it up and put it under the Christmas Tree and when I opened it I said ":Oh honey this is the book I've been wanting for so long, how did you know?" and my husband just sat there staring blankly at me LOL

The book is called A History of American Tonalism: 1880-1920. It has tons of gorgeous full color plates and brand new scholarship by author David A. Cleveland which places tonalism in a whole new, and I think more correct light, releasing it from unfair and inaccurate criticism which labels it  a derivative of the Barbizon school. Cleveland more insightfully defines it as a uniquely American art movement embodying the quintessential New England character as well as the visual embodiment of the transcendental philosophical and literary thoughts of the day. Cleveland also lays out a convincing case for tonalism as the fountainhead of American modernism. If you have an interest in understand this truly American landscape painting movement/style I can highly recommend this book, worth every penny!

Here is a spring painting that I absolutely love....Pissarro's, Spring Landscape with Flooded Fields, which you can see at the Wadsworth Antheneum in Hartford, CT In this painting, especially if you get to see it in person you can practically feel the air, a really remarkable piece filled with clarity and light. Just look at the color of the water! Tres Beaux!

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