In my long journey of learning to paint, occasionally I come across a concept that alludes me. I think that I understand it, but then realize that I really don't. With all the resources available to me, I pursue understanding like a hunting dog after a raccoon. And usually I tree that raccoon but there are times when that varmint gets away. I'm feeling rather Southern today in touch with my Carolina roots. I know when I don't know. If I can't describe it in my own words and either give examples or demonstrate it, then I know it falls under the category of I Don't Get It.
Quang Ho gave the keynote demonstration at the Oil Painters of America National Exhibition in 2012 in Colorado. He explained the eight visual intentions/approaches available for painters to use to express their intentions for an image. The first was light and shadow, then local tone, followed by six more. Hmm . . . my head tilted a little.
Upon returning home I ordered all three of his DVD's because I know an excellent teacher when I hear one and he was the genuine article. Watching Nuts and Bolts, a six hour DVD in which Ho explains the painting process as a whole including the visual approaches artists have used over the centuries (well worth buying) I still was a little fuzzy on this particular concept. Being the person I am, I had to stay with it until I could make it my own. I truly believe the statement made by Nelson Shanks. "We train to become enabled by competence not restricted by inability."
The internet is a wonderful thing and soon I was googling anything I could find about Local Tone. A helpful site was a description of Kevin Weckback's workshop. Here he talks about the visual approaches, and is a former student of Quang Ho. Read it, sorta got it but I knew I still couldn't own it so I gave up and pulled my Scarlette O'Hara attitude-"I'll think about that tomorrow."
Then last week I was rereading some of Daniel Gerhartz's Technical Insight blogs and my eye caught a simple phrase-value, tone, AND color . . . . Bells went off-duh! Value and tone mean two different things.
Fast forward to yesterday and a pleasant day spent with a student of mine and a visit to a fellow artist's open house. The conversation on the way home was where I made the connection and that raccoon was dead meat. The point of this post is not necessarily to teach you what local tone is although it is well worth knowing but that learning anything is not a straight forward linear process. It's filled with stops and starts, confusion and sorting out. Learning to be the painter you want to be is not easy but it sure is an interesting, spiritual, and purpose-filled journey, one well-worth devoting your life to. My "tool box" is now a little heavier with new found understanding.
If I have peaked your interest in this particular visual approach, another useful link is Victoria Ekelund's post. Once you understand what local tone is you will see it and be able to recognize it making viewing art more enjoyable. Here's one of my favorites by Mary Cassatt.
Enjoy the journey of learning and Happy Holidays.