Tonalist Painting ~ A Meditative Stimulus to Creative Powers

Tuscan landscape painting

A good way to increase creative powers is to study or paint tonalist paintings. Creative powers are stimulated by slowing down and becoming aware of subtle changes of color and light.

In our fast-paced, bright, loud world, this balance is essential for continued health and well-being. Awareness and sensitivity are stimulated by even short exposures to these subtleties of light and color.

Even momentary observation of subtle changes in hue and value heighten one’s creative abilities significantly. Moment by moment, bit by bit, awareness increases and creative skills show themselves in unexpected ways.

Remember, creative power is not measurable in the way we think of tracking progress. Creative power shows itself between the cracks, literally and figuratively. It is in those moments we let go, however short or infrequent, that the Creative Source steps in offering gifts.

Meditative, the process of letting the eye wander amid nuances of color releases attachments. Without struggle, creative powers are released to function as they are designed to operate. The body heals, ideas flow, wellness is maintained in a balanced state.

value painting
Tre Sorelle di Poggio, oil, 10 x 10

Tonalist Painting Exercise

Mix each color to fall into a mid-value range. If the value scale from nearly black to nearly white is 10 points, a mid-range set of values would be 4, 5 and 6. This painting is an example of a mid-range value painting.

Painting this, I worked en plein air on a misty October afternoon. I was initially attracted to the russet color of an autumn tree in the foreground. However, my painting is more of a tonalist essay reflecting the quiet autumn day.

Stepping back to look for tones which pop out as too light or too dark, will help in adjusting their values.

For more examples of tonalist paintings look at works by John Henry Twachtman.

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Author: Dorothy Fagan

Through the quirky way she interprets dreams, art, and day-to-day stuff ~ Dorothy's dream of painting the lavender fields of Provence became real. Her book about painting in France, Discovering Joy's Garden, transformed into this inspirational website.