Thursday, September 3, 2009

Impressionist or a Tonalist ?

I have been actively painting Plein Air since 2008. Being outdoors is natural for me. I have always enjoyed a beautiful sunset or watching storm clouds forming. The challenge of landscape work is that there is so much to paint, at so many levels.

I love the work of the French Impressionists. I have studied their paintings and methods. Back in 1989, I made a number of studies of Monet's work. Here is a study of a Monet’s “Le Bassin d’Argenteail” , that I copied back in 1989. There is a great benefit in copying the masters, but you are only working from the finished work. The process that Monet went through to create this work, took years of trial and error to develop his talents to a masterpiece level. I must go through the same process of learning by just doing.

Back in 1990 I stopped painting due to family commitments and other priorities. But now I am back working in landscapes. In the Plien Air method of painting, I enjoy the freedom of the moment, but I feel like the "draftsman in me", is overtaking the "impressionist". Normally I work from background to foreground. Here is a current painting where I painted in this style.

In my studies, I understand the concept of about tonal development and to focus on darks to lights. Recently, I tried to break away from background to foreground method of painting, and I focused on a tonal approach. By the time I was finished, I was painting my lights in mud.

When I get to a place where I have too much paint built up, I have to stop, and plan to work another day. Sometimes I will start a work on Friday morning and finish it on Saturday, but always outdoors.
I have found that I can complete a 10” x 8” paint board in a 2-3 hour session, where as working on a 10”x 14” canvas takes two sessions. Time flies when I am painting.

I think I am going to keep working in a impressionist style. I am painting tomorrow and I will see how it all works out.


Marian Fortunati said...

I recently was reading a blog post on "making a mark" which included a survey about which type of art we'd categorize ourselves in.
Most of us find it difficult to do that. I'd agree... It is a matter of style, but few of us really are one or the other, in my opinion... we sort of lap over into several.

annie kelleher said...

how interesting... i didn't know you painted at all in high school!

Jim Kiesling said...

It was at the Peddie School, in 1976, that the Art Department had sponsored a day of painting like the masters. I tried to copy a Matisse, and I was so impressed how difficult it was, that I knew that there was something inside me that wanted to investigate more. While I was at the Naval Academy, I purchased the Time Life “book a month club” on the great artist of the Western World. Being close to Washington DC, I enjoyed going to the National Art Gallery. Being able to look at Monet’s works close up, sold me on the beautiful works of the Impressionist. In about 1985, I started with watercolors, copying the works of Toulouse Lautrec, then Monet in oils. The rest of the story involves a hurricane, a portrait artist and a Pentecostal church… but I will leave that story for another blog posting.