For over thirty years, I've been a painter of realism. I have slaved over detail, gnashed my teeth trying to make everything "look real", and hated to see anything "messy" on my canvas.
Of late, however, I have begun to study the work of painters such as George Innes, Erik Koepple, Bruce Crane, and especially Dennis Sheehan, whose work is hung in the White House. Their work exudes a quality of mood that I find very compelling. So much so, that I have watched, over and over again, Sheehan's teaching videos, and have completed my first three studies in tonalism.
Tonalism is based on the techniques of the old masters; however, to my mind, it combines that look with a less "sentimental" and more modern result that draws the viewer in without making him wrinkle his nose in disdain at the corniness of it all. This landscape by George Innes, though gorgeous in its color work, is a good example. In my opinion, way too fussy.
So I am striving to learn the technique while at the same time, keeping it simple, stupid. I will work color into the mix as I continue to improve my new skills.
As you can see in this second attempt at tonalism, I'm starting to get the feel of working ala prima, wet into wet, finishing the piece in a two hour session. To facilitate things like tree trunks and high contrast, it is sometimes necessary to wipe off the underpainted layer in order to get a pure darker tone.
There is another way to paint tonalism: one can paint the entire piece in darks and let it dry for a week or more. After that, color glazes can be applied to achieve depth and mood. I've not gotten there yet; the most I've done is to cover a canvas board with small squares of dark shades so that later I can practice glazing over them with different colors.
This study will be used for that purpose when it is finished. Still have a little bridge to insert over the water.