Tonalism was an art movement that emerged in the late 19th century in the United States, primarily in painting but also in photography. The Tonalists sought to create contemplative and emotional landscapes by using a limited palette of colors and soft, blurred brushstrokes to evoke the atmospheric effects of nature. They were influenced by music and sought to create works that had a musical quality, with the arrangement of colors and forms conveying a sense of harmony.
Unlike other contemporary art movements such as Impressionism and Luminism, the Tonalists favored cool, muted colors and often depicted quiet, nocturnal scenes. They believed that their paintings could convey spiritual and philosophical ideas without relying on narrative, and their work would influence the development of early 20th-century abstraction.
The Tonalists also had an impact on photography, with Pictorialist photographers adopting their techniques and aesthetics in order to establish photography as an art form. By manipulating exposures and prints, they were able to simulate the tonal relationships and atmospheric effects found in Tonalist painting. The emphasis on process and the idea that photography could convey emotion and symbolism would continue to influence photographers for generations to come.
I am so excited to be bringing the tonalist techniques to my wildlife work. I feel like I am breaking new ground!