TONE no. 2       Thursday 21st October 2010.    Penny Bearman

One of the most important concepts of painting is the connection of tone with texture.
This is a most respectable tradition within painting, a tradition that has been taught in art schools for centuries, and has been prevalent in western artistic style since the renaissance, it is at the heart of such diverse styles as impressionism, fauvism, the Scottish colourists, American realists, the surrealists, right up to the present day.
Quite simply this method involves firstly using light and shade to depict the subject matter, then using appropriate and different textures to depict the light and shade.
The traditional teaching, pre 1950s within art schools, based on knowledge of Italian renaissance painting, is to use thick undiluted paint for light falling on a subject, with thin diluted paint for shadows, building the transparent appearance of shadows with glazes.
More unusual approaches might use different textures, such as the thick repetitive brush marks of Van Gogh, while not questioning the initial tonal concept. Personally I am fascinated in reversing the process, adding transparent paint to light areas, thick opaque effects to dark ones. This way a more modern look can be achieved, sacrificing some of the illusion of depth for a more decorative appearance, while still adopting the traditional tonal sensibility.
Test your observation of tone, then see how inventive you can be with your textures to illustrate tonality!