Friday, February 25, 2011

After watercolors a week ago, this weekend it's ACRYLICS! M. & M., here I come!

I am very excited about this weekend.  Tomorrow and Sunday I will be taking Jan Blencowe's workshop on painting in the style of the Tonalists, using acrylics.  The workshop is being held at Maple & Main Gallery of Fine Art in Chester from 10 to 3 both days.  (She will be repeating this class on March 26 & 27, if you are interested.)  Because I don't paint in acrylics, I have purchased the basic colors Jan had on her supply list and put together the other materials I'll need.  I've gone through Roger's photographs, looking for suitable landscapes that would lend themselves to this genre.

Jan is thorough.  Today she emailed the class background information on Tonalism.  Among the wealth of material she included, I found the following very interesting.  Perhaps you will too.

Tonalism: The Defining Aesthetic of the Turn of the Century 1880-1920

In a post Civil War era Tonalism was a response to anxiety about the future.  Tonalist paintings offered a retreat from anxieties & physical stress and embodied a yearning for the values of an agrarian world.  Tonalism was a mirror to the anxieties and joys of its age.  Both traditional & modernist, tonalist paintings eschewed narrative elements which interfered with the purity of solitude necessary for contemplation reflecting Emerson’s transcendental ideas and Whistler's non-narrative abstraction.  Tonalism embraces the deepest love of the land and the deepest spiritual intuitions of the American character.   (A taste of Jan Blencowe's email notes to me.)

If ever there was anxiety about the future, it's now.  On the individual, state, federal, and international levels, life seems to be growing increasingly stressful.   If ever there was a time in history crying out for peace and contentment, it is now.  The greatest inspiration for my paintings has always been the land, and what grows on it.  If I can learn from Jan how to increase the serenity in my paintings, I am EAGER to do so.

I signed up for Jan's workshop for many reasons.   In addition to being an accomplished professional artist, Jan is an excellent teacher.   I have taken other workshops with her--painting in oils, building my own website, and marketing for artists--and I always come away with lots of information and increased skills.   She is very generous in sharing her knowledge with others.  Although I'm sure I will be "stretched" this weekend, I look forward to it because Jan's classes are safe places to be.  She encourages her students and points out areas where improvement is possible.  So I know I will grow as an artist, whether I ever paint in acrylics again.  As an artist who feels part of the family of Impressionists, I am looking forward to seeing what Tonalism can teach me.  Please keep me in your thoughts this weekend, and wish me luck.  Thanks.

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