1.21.2011

Marsh Light


I'm a great admirer of the Tonalist painters. The Wikipedia definition of this style says "Tonalism (1880 to 1915) is an artistic style that emerged in the 1880s when American artists began to paint landscape forms with an overall tone of colored atmosphere or mist. Dark, neutral hues, such as gray, brown or blue, would usually dominate such compositions. Two of the leading painters associated with this style are George Inness and James McNeill Whistler." Most of the tonalist artists were oil painters and since I love watercolors and want to stay with this medium, I try every now and then to create tonalism in my watercolor landscapes. I love the mood it creates and the harmony it brings to a painting. I was quite pleased with this attempt, inspired by the marshes in Mill Valley, CA, near where I live. I first did an underpainting of raw sienna on Arches hot-pressed watercolor paper. Over that I painted the sky with brown madder, burnt sienna and cobalt blue grayed with a little Payne's gray. The marsh was painted using burnt umber, burnt sienna and Payne's grey. I had to go over the sky with a glaze of cobalt blue to tone it down to achieve the atmospheric look I wanted. Size: 13.5" x 10".

20 comments:

  1. Hi Jean, Lovely piece...Google_ CA watercolorist Percy Gray he was a tonalist...I love his paintings

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  2. Thanks Karen. Percy Grey painted scenes in Marin County, CA, where I live.

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  3. Jean, I love this! I greatly respect the way you stay with your own unique style and also your serious study of the old Masters.

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  4. I like the tones and limited palette of your paintings very much.
    And thank you, I know about tonalism now.)

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  5. An absolutely masterful composition. As a huge fan of watercolors who really does go for the cheerful flowers in bright colors or dreamy impressionistic pastel hues of pretty much anything ... I love the hushed dignity of this landscape piece at twilight.

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  6. I like the way you illustrate us your creative process in painting, it is so interesting and useful! This painting is wonderful, Jean, I love this atmospheric sky!

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  7. Thanks for the quick lesson on tonalism Jean! So nice to be reminded of some of my art history lessons that were long buried! I love the effect of tonalist work. Your mountains are awesome!

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  8. Irina: I greatly admire the Tonalist painters. They were able to create great mood in their paintings.

    CountryDreaming: Have not heard from you in a long time. Thanks for stopping by and for your nice comment.

    Cristina: I only wish more artists would list the colors they use and explain their techniques. I see blogging as a great sharing and learning process.

    Saundra: Thanks for the comment. I love your new style of painting.

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  9. Jean, yes I think you Have It!
    your painting suggests that atmosphere so well. I'd read about Tonalism a bit . and I've always like that soft monocromatic look ..

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  10. A lovely painting Jean, and an informative post. I learn so much from posts like this. Thank you.

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  11. You've certainly caught the mood in this Jean! And thank you for the information on tonal values.

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  12. Lovely painting Jean and you did a great job of "toning" to achieve the color harmony.

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  13. Jean beautifully done. I like that you explained your influences and your method of completing this lovely piece of work. I must say, your work just keeps getting stronger!

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  14. Jean, this is fabulous! I can’t believe that you used HP paper as well. This really inspires me to pull my finger out and paint some Tonalist type watercolours again. I have been pondering the idea of doing a series of posts on Inness, mostly about his use of horizon line(s) across the middle of the page…. and why they work, when usually they don’t.
    Been so busy with the washes blog, though that I have not gotten around to it. Do you think you could have achieved the same effect by using fewer colours or just two colours? I’m a great fan of a really limited palette. Have you seen or purchased the new book that’s been published on American Tonalism?

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  15. John: Glad you found the post interesting.

    Liz: Glad to see you blogging again and thanks for the comments.

    Eva: Thanks. I really like your latest work. You are so innovative.

    Mary: Thanks so much. I like to feel that I improve with each piece.

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  16. Maggie:
    It's always good to hear your ideas and comments. I also like a limited palette and probably could have used fewer colors for this piece. However, once I started the piece I realized I needed different colors to complete the look, hence the larger palette. Thanks for the info about the book. I will order it.

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  17. Just beautiful , has a wonderful feel to it.

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  18. It has an oil painting look to it Jean. I must say this is a knock out painting, really took me to marshlands beneath a stormy sunset sky.

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  19. Barbara Pask: Thanks so much for visiting and for your positive feedback.

    Caroline: Glad you like it. We have these marshes locally that are very beautiful. I have always wanted to paint them but the area is so flat that to make it interesting I decided the sky had to be as important as the marsh in the painting.

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