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Am I a Tonalist? I think so, when it comes to landscapes.

It’s always been hard for me to categorize my art, because the colors look different than a lot of contemporary art I see. So I began looking at historical works and styles and I think I’ve found something – a style of painting called Tonalism.

Distinguishing characteristics of this kind of painting include limited palette and a melancholic mood, partly due to the color palette. Melancholy is my middle name during autumn, and many of the tonalist paintings are landscape scenes with autumnal hues.

Even if I’m painting plein air during spring or summer, the colors I have on my palette will still bring me back to that earthy look.

Ponca in Summertime without the frame, an original watercolor in Ozark pigments by Madison Woods.
Ponca Access in Summertime, Ozark pigments

I just might be a neo-Tonalist, at least when it comes to landscapes.

I have a lot of dreary weather photography to support my need for references in this category of work. Take this post, for example. Not so much the spider webs in that one, but I was thinking more of the last image about symbols of sustenance and warmth. Or this one. That one has landscapes fully within the realms of possibility with my colors.

Candidates for Tonalist Style Paintings

I think these photo references will definitely lead to paintings that fit the colors and tones of tonalist art. Even if they didn’t before, they will after I paint them, just because the colors of my pigments are not bright and cheery. I think all three together would make a nice triptych. Or maybe it’s too much with the same shed from different angles. I have a nice King’s river or Felkins creek photo I can use for reference, too, so I might swap the second little shed picture out for one of those.

Winter came early to Wild Ozark. A trio of possible tonalist style paintings I'll do.

2023 Plans

For the year of 2023, I am focusing on using oil paints that I make from the Ozark pigments. I also want to do plein air with my oils. Of course, this might not work out as intended, as it didn’t when the Down at the Creek series came to exist. But it doesn’t matter what ends up on my canvas, really. Only that I like the result. So that’s the goal. I have a few commissions in watercolor to finish up during the month of January. After that, I’m diving headlong into the oils. See you on the other side!

Tomorrow I have a post coming out that will outline my goals and ambitions for the new year. So watch for that if you like that sort of thing.

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