While the high winds continued today in the desert, the class went on and Mark continued to help us focus on his tonal method. He starts by blocking in a single, middle value for each plane in the landscape (sky, ground, slanted, upright). Here’s a quick video that shows two of my studies today in the drawing stage to the completed study.

I painted as many small studies as possible today, to get feedback from Mark on following his technique. Here’s the first, a study done while hunkering down under the hatchback of my car (damn winds!)

Through the Trees, Oil on Linen, 12×9

I stayed hunkered in the shelter of the windbreak formed by my car for this next study, cliffs in shadow. I tried to keep in simple, again focusing on separation of planes of light.

Desert Cliffs, Oil on Canvas

The winds grew too strong by the afternoon, so we moved to the shelter of a nearby grove of palms. Did two studies here, both from a nice sheltered spot. I’m happy with the brush strokes and overall composition.

Through Palms, Oil on Linen

My spot in the palm grove was relatively sheltered, so I turned right and painted another scene through the palms, this time focusing on the distant hills, which were beautifully lit.

Through Palms #2, Oil on Linen

After completing back-to-back workshops, one with a colorist, the other a tonalist, I have some thoughts on the difference between two. Whereas a colorist (at least as practiced by Camille Przewodek) will start with very high-key, intense underpaintings and then tone it down with local color to finish; tonalists focus on values, often starting with neutral underpaintings, and then gradually brining up the color to finish.
Each technique has it’s uses. My thought right now is the tonalist approach is best for paintings that are more quiet, calm lighting, etc, whereas colorist approaches might be best for full-sun, colorful subjects. This is probably over-simplifying, but I’m going with this theory for now.

What do you think?

10 thoughts on “Mark Kerckhoff Workshop, Day 3

  1. Ed,

    Wow, you’re taking quite a software suite on the road in order to make movies, etc…even if it is a slide show. Pretty soon your brush strokes will be broadcast right as you make them…haha!! Way to go, I really enjoy your workshop blogs and I think it helps your readers on deciding whether they want to take a particular workshop.

    Oh, and BTW, “Through Palms” is great. The colors and reflected light are very nice!

  2. Hey Ed —
    These video demos are really interesting.
    How did you make them?
    They don’t look like they are from a video camera.
    I just got the largest Open Box M panel holder and took it out in very, very windy conditions in the Marin Headlands. It held up against the elements very nicely.
    John D


  3. Ed,
    Thank you so much for taking a stab at describing the differences of a tonalist and colorist.
    I’ve been having the same trouble of where to go at the start of a painting. Realistic color or Heightened Color?
    I like that you suggest separating the two depending on the available light condition.

    But here in the Midwest, especially with our flat environment and overcast winters, if you painted in a tonalist fashion, all your paintings would be totally BLAHHHH ( except when snow is on the ground or the sun is out ). So, I think that even when you are stuck with low key light, pushing color( color that a non-artist would see or imagine ). may be an exception to your suggestion.
    A plein-air friend of mine walked up to me in the process of painting on a very BLAH day in the woods and said “O my, where are you seeing all those colors?” I said, “I’m dreaming of Spring.”

    and said “

  4. I would agree with your loose simplification of where each style (colorist or tonalist) of painting would be most useful…but I would definately like to experiment more with the colorist method.

  5. Hi Ed,
    I really liked both paintings extremely well although I think I favor the colorist painting. As I am more of a tonalist painter myself, maybe I need to start my paintings with the colorist approach- thanks for pointing out the differences based on your workshop experiences. Susan

  6. I agree with your summary for tonalist and colorists. I studied with Camille and am a bit of a colorist myself, but strive to be more tonal. I recently moved to Los Osos and studied with Libby Tolley last year. If you have not purchased her new book, you must seek it out.

    PS Any artist wanting to paint here in the SLO area, just let me know. I am available to show you around..


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