Been There, Done That

With the Christmas holiday behind us, I hurried down to my art studio on Saturday morning, ready to make a little art. As I had done each morning in December, I began with my little landscape project. The cards for Days 26 through 31 were setting on my easel, all carefully toned with black gesso. I was looking forward to painting.

For inspiration, I was using a landscape — “November Morning” — by Dwight William Tryon. It looked like a November morning, and I enjoyed painting the scene. I brightened my colors just a bit, but kept a similar composition. The placement of my trees is a bit different, and Tryon’s skies might have a touch more pink than mine, but I was happy with my little 3 x 5 oil painting.

Another bad photo — for some reason these index card paintings are extremely difficult to photograph — but here is my interpretation of Tryon’s “November Morning”.


The following day — December 27– I once again hurried to the art studio, ready to start my day with the next in my series of landscape paintings. I went to the file where I kept the “inspiration paintings” for the project, pulled up the one I would be using and shook my head a bit.

“Wait. I’ve already been there. I’ve done this.” It looked nearly identical to the previous day’s landscape. I looked a little closer, though, and saw that while it was clearly the same scene, these were two slightly different paintings. A little additional research explained what was going on. The first painting, as I mentioned above, was “November Morning.” The second was “September Morning.” Although I have no way to verify it, I’m fairly certain that Tryon painted these two landscapes, or at least started them en plein air. I would guess that he painted the September landscape first. He, too, had most likely “been there, done that,” when he returned in November to paint again.

Here are the two “Morning” paintings by Tryon, and I’m wondering if there are others painted at different times of the year.  First, his “November Morning.”

As you look at this painting, notice the rocks in the foreground and the red bushes around them.

Now, take a look at “September Morning”, and once again, notice not only the trees, but the rocky foreground with the reddish bushes.

He’s changed up his color palette. While November is warm, September tends toward the cool side. The trees — while similar — are slightly different, suggesting that Tryon was viewing the scene from a different perspective. The rocky foreground area also suggests this.

I’m not an art scholar, but I definitely think this was the same location, painted on two different days at two different times. What do you think?

My second painting began the same way as the first. I began with the sky, and like Tryon, I stayed with blues and left out any touch of pink.

Now, immediately you can see a big difference between Tryon’s painting and mine. The trees have disappeared! Yep. Even though initially I was looking forward to painting them and practicing once more on fine, thin lines, I changed my mind. This was another little painting that I liked — just the way it was.

So, I smiled, shrugged, and walked away. I was happy with my painting.

I wish you could actually see all of these little landscape paintings as they really look. The colors are much richer, a few details much clearer. Although these two landscapes don’t look like much here on the blog, they’re actually beautiful little works of art — if I do say so myself!

Throughout this project, I have continued to learn and to grow as an artist. Additionally I’ve gotten to know about the lives and the works of many tonalist artists. It’s been a rewarding art project at every level.


  1. Due to recent circumstances, I have started doing some small paintings too. There is so much to learn from them. And I agree that they are difficult to photograph! They’re just so small that somehow they don’t quite translate. I don’t think it’s uncommon for artists to return to the same location throughout the seasons. It’s great that you picked up on that possibility in his work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really enjoyed doing the small paintings. Yes, indeed, there is much to learn from them! I think this was probably the best art project I’ve ever done because it was so enjoyable and so instructive at the same time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I have done them as small as 2.5″ by 3.5″ for an art trading card swap. It’s been months since I have painted anything larger than a 5 x 7. They are a great way to explore and learn. I save the best ones in a small photo album.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for mentioning the photo album! I still have my little paintings here and have been trying to figure out where to put them. Gathering them up and putting them in a photo album will be a perfect solution!


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