O223: A Minor Tonality

This is one of the larger invented landscapes I have done, about 60 x 45 cm in size. I am trying to incorporate a lighter color key into my paintings and I regard this painting and the others I did this weekend (to be posted soon) as experiments. But then, maybe everything we do in art is experimental?

Below you can see how this painting evolved from a playful sketch in which the composition centered around spirals. The painting on the right is the result after my second painting session. I left it overnight and decided I wanted to darken the foreground.

The final outcome is below. I am quite happy with this result.

I have in the past received comments on my blog – and in in person – remarking on my rather somber palette. Also, often my posts – as the name of my blog suggests – focuses on the..ahem…less happy facets of life – which also seems to elicit concern about my well-being and state of mind!


Like many others, I am rather formal and serious in public. But privately I still feel like a child, joyful and happy for much of the time. However, if I am still a child at heart in my private moments, then it is a child who has seen loved ones disappear and knows that we are on this earth only for a limited time, and that this material realm is not our true home.

So…yes, there is a somber, melancholy element to my art, and this is a direct reflection of the beauty I see in the deeper, more reflective, and subtle aspects of life. A frivolous happiness – in art often represented by what Andrew Wyeth called “the visual cocktail” – is not sustainable all the time (unless you are getting some chemical assistance!).

And so to represent all of life in art, there has to be the shadow side as well. I feel quite comfortable in that shadow side. The “always positive and happy” movement is good – I have benefited from it myself. This is what I believe Thomas Moore referred to as a “Major Tonality” of life.

But the patina of life is more interesting than just that one tonality. Moore writes:

When people approve only of major tonalities, they become simplistic, not only in their thinking but in their very being…It takes a complex view of yourself and your fellow human beings to hold back on hatreds and fears. A mature person is complicated and has complex ideas and values. The minor tonality of a dark night adds a significant and valuable complexity to your personality and way of life.

Thomas Moore: Dark Nights of the Soul

Wendell Berry seems to know the darkness of life also blooms and sings:

To Know the Dark
To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
and is travelled by dark feet and dark wings.

The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry


Thanks for visiting my blog. I hope you are…HAPPY…and content!


6 thoughts on “O223: A Minor Tonality

  1. Larger is good–it makes an artist “stretch”. It also forces (most) people to give up their obsession with detail, although in your case that’s hardly necessary! Darkening the foreground was absolutely the right move. Now the rest of the painting not only recedes, but rushes to the background. Nice movement! Finally, yes, unless you’re a draftsman I would say that all art is an experiment. That’s what makes it so darn much fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “…everything we do in art is experimental…” needs no question mark. The red attempts to draw the eye, but the clouds and the folds in the hills make me look at a central point where sky and land meet. The horizon is always critical in your paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

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