Here’s the last painting which had a strong tonal theme of black tree-trunks/white blossom.

Here’s the same painting with the colour stripped out in PS via greyscale.

Here’s the greyscale is changed by darkening the mid-tone grey in PS.


Using Photoshop elements to help painting

It’s more stormy with the white blossom more dramatic. But it wasn’t exactly like that whilst painting ‘en plein-air’….it was more like the first greyscale…. sometimes it’s difficult to break off from copying ‘mes petits sensations’ (Cézanne – meaning enregistering the optical data for each little glance, each little staccato perception bounced back).

Do I have a problem getting my tonal values right?

As a colourist, I tend prioritise colour over value. Heighten, exaggerate the colour. I like very much the simplicity of what the english watercolourist Trevor Chamberlain, said – ‘I’m basically a tonal painter with colour laid over the top’. Could I say that I’m basically a colourist with a high tonal contrast laid over the top? This is probably too intellectual? The truth often eludes recipes & descriptions & I find that no two paintings unfold in the same way.

Or maybe it’s a badly exposed jpeg?

Maybe I should do some black & white oils?

Maybe I should use one eye for colour & the other eye for tone! LOL (in fact that’s morre or less what scientists are saying about rod & cone receptor cells in the eyeball).

Off to paint in the orchard now, with a nice bright but overcast light today, with no shadows & little tonal contrast. No more blossom.


2 Comments on “tonality?

  1.  by  Casey Klahn

    I tear my hair out over whether to truncate the value range, or go with what I wish – drama.

    And that devil, the camera, requires that I often keep the scale of values in the middling. Cursed cameras!

    At least you are interacting with the question of value scale. I’d say you hit it the way you like.

  2.  by  Adam Cope

    yes cameras do enregister differently than humans (yet the ignorant insist that a camera is the same as the human eye).

    Making paintings or copying? There’s an juncture point where one can consciously & deliberately choose to tweak & change (one has to anyway in plein air as the light changes an) or carry on chasing ‘mes petits sensations’.

    Yet art that looks like photographs with heavy dramatic tonal contrasts … this the art which sells the best on the painting a day blogs, to my knowledge. Just copy photographs & put a few blobs of paint & the odd drammatic brush strokes here & there? Well maybe there’s more to it than that, but it does hinge on the buying public majority taste for photographic realism with the odd painterly twurl.