Am I still talking about painting tonally? I don't know. I kind of lost track. Not that I had a track to begin with. I just started babbling about painting tonally and followed where it lead. There was never an organized idea or ideas to what became a series of posts on painting tonally.
When I was working on the roller coaster paintings, I started thinking about other rides at the amusement park. The carousel has always been a metaphor-rich subject (think about it; we can't wait to get in on the action, how we fight over the limited, colorfully seductive choices, how we pretend to be having a real experience when really, we're just going up and down and around and around on a piece of painted fiberglass, listening to the same surreal soundtrack over and over, and we end up exactly where we started) and I thought the diverse positions and decorations of the horses (and other animals) would make a great series of studies.
I'm not a wildlife painter, nor am I a western painter. I know nothing about horses and have no particular feelings about them. For me to paint actual horses would be nothing more than technical exercises (albeit very challenging), because I have no emotional connection to the animal. But carousel horses give me plenty of connecting points to my own memories and emotions, and that's an important distinction.
In terms of technique, this painting seems to have a different color structure than the rollercoaster paintings. Actually, it's not that different. If I take out the blue [saddle blanket] thing, the painting sits comfortably in the same yellow-orange-red slice of the pie. The lit part of the white horse is very light against the dark background, which makes it look less tonal (a lot of "tonalist" paintings have very narrow value ranges). You can see both warm and cool shadows on the horse, but even the parts that look like cool grays are in fact in the orange realm. The blue [saddle blanket] thing is in the blue slice of the pie, but very muted. The blues look a lot more saturated than they actually are only because of the orange context. If I went farther out on the blue end of the color wheel, I would surely lose harmony.
I keep talking about the same thing over and over with each post, but this stuff can be tricky and it took me years to "get it". (Mostly because I didn't pay attention in school so I had to figure it out on my own) And now that I teach this stuff, I have come to believe that repeating the point with different examples really helps. You still have to do it yourself to really get it, but knowledge has to come first. After all, if you don't know what you're doing, you can't do it well.
In the next several posts, I'll share other carousel horse studies with different value structures~