Lets chat a bit about Tonalism today.
Tonalism was a movement in American landscape painting that lasted from about 1870 to 1920 or so.
As a movement it was heavily influenced both by the Hudson river and Luminist schools that came before it but most importantly by the French Barbizon movement.
Here's a bit I wrote about Tonalism in an old blog:
"Tonalism is about a poetic interpretation of the emotive response we have to nature. It's about using the landscape and paint to convey emotion through the picture plain and into the mind and heart of the viewer. It is much more than a "tone" or any color effect or style.
Tonalism is often a bit diffused but it is not about that either. It's about expressing the plane just below the surface of life/nature and the emotive currents of the scene it's light, space and colors fractured as brushed paint"
|Autumn Meadow (8x10) by M Francis McCarthy|
While I have never copied Inness I have probably read most every book out there about him and I believe that his achievement in landscape painting has not been equaled by anyone since.
The paintings of Inness contain very high spiritual attributes. This is not an accident as George Inness was a man driven by spirituality to an extreme.
There are many other great Tonalist painters I admire like Charles Warren Eaton, Robert Swain Gifford, Lowell Birge Harrison and John La Farge. But Inness was my first big draw.
|Autumn Meadow (5x7) by M Francis McCarthy|
Is Tonalism making a comeback?
I cannot say that I know. All I know is that I personally resonate with this mode of painting. I've see quite a few modern artists attempt Tonalism. Not many of them have succeeded in my view. A big exception is Dennis Sheehan, no doubt there are others I'm not aware of too.
If you are interested in learning more about Tonalism I reccomend this book highly: A History of American Tonalism,1880-1920.
It doesn't look like Amazon is selling it directly anymore. I hope it's not out of print. I'd pick it up if you even remotely interested in American Landscape Painting as it is a great book.
In fact I own two copies. One for the studio and one here at my home office.