I am loving my December tonalism project. Yep, that little project where I’m taking inspiration from a few favorite artists and creating oil paintings on index cards. As crazy as it sounds, it is really a lot of fun.
The purpose of the project is not to re-create paintings, but to learn from them, to take the basic ideas, study the compositions, explore the various elements of the style, and then to use what I’ve learned to paint my own landscape scene.
Working on a 3 x 5 card — as mentioned previously, I’m using a numbered set of manila dividers for the project — is challenging in itself. Everything must be scaled down. There’s little room for mistakes or happy accidents to happen.
My first painting was inspired by “Autumn”, by George Inness. You can see his painting here.
Because my index card isn’t proportionally the same as the canvas he worked on, my composition is similar but different. Again, the point isn’t to copy a work but to create a painting of my own with similar composition, similar colors, and similar themes. In that, I think I succeeded with my little oil painting.
I loved the subtle effects I was able to create in the sky, and I really like the fact that I was able to show some depth — even on a 3 x 5 painting.
I’m very pleased with the background trees, and with the different planes in the mid-ground.
All in all, I was happy with this first painting. I’m looking forward to learning more each day as I make my way through 31 “index card” oil paintings.
So what did I learn today?
- Even small gradations in color can make a big difference in adding depth and dimension.
- A limited palette helps give a painting a more unified look.
- With practice, I’m getting better at painting thin, fine lines.
- I’m becoming more aware of how to use light and shadow.
Yes, I like it. I hope you do, too.