David P. Curtis
Paintings and Plein Air Art Instruction

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The Tonalist Challenge

Tonalism and Impressionism are painting movements that both started around the end of the 19th century. An impressionist painting is more about seeing the whole, or the bigness, all at once, rather than a painting of vibrating, colored and reflected lights. Tonalism also needs overall unity combined with the suggestion of forms emerging through the gray mist of vision.

While there are many differences between the two movements, there are also many similarities. The moody tonalists were trying to create musical tone poems, while the impressionists wanted to capture the sunlight out of doors.

Charles Warren Eaton (1857-1937) American tonalist

With this idea of tonalism in mind, I am offering a competition to execute an outstanding tonal composition, open to anyone who would like to enter, between January 20 - February 28. The three artists who submit what I consider the best tonal effect will win a free 2017 Cape Ann Summer Workshop in either 'Composition' or 'Boats and Buildings.

Entries must be received by me as a digital image, via my email davidpcurtis@comcast.net prior to February 28th to be considered.

A suggested palette for a tonal painting is burnt sienna, cadmium yellow deep, ultramarine blue and white.

Please note: no more than 3 entries per artist. Also, work will be posted to my website.

Check out the Gallery Page now under 2017 Tonalist Competition Entries.

Joseph H. Greenwood (1857-1927) avoided being associated with any specific school of art, claiming “men who follow a school are always behind… if you have anything to say, say it in your own way. The strong painters could not be budged one way or another.” Greenwood combined the hazy atmosphere of the Tonalists with the bright light of the Impressionists.

I hope this competition helps you to think about painting as a means of expressing those parts in nature that ‘make us feel,’ i.e., a stormy sunset, the wind moving trees, a rain storm, etc. The use of a tonal quality will expedite your attempts at painting a feeling, a dramatic effect, or a beautiful tone poem!

This is all about training the memory to see and retain, so the work can be executed later in the studio. 
Lastly, please remember, this competition is to inspire and challenge you, as well as me. I will be judging the work – not the artist!  Good luck ~ David