Tonal Approach to Painting

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The tonal approach to painting involves not drawing any outlines or shapes with your paint, among other things. Learn about the tonal approach to painting with help from a professional and experienced artist in this free video clip.

Part of the Video Series: Oil Painting Techniques
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Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Abbeth. I'm an artist in Portland, Maine, and I'm going to teach you about the tonal approach to painting. For the tonal approach, we are not going to be drawing any outlines or shapes with the paint. Instead, you're going to be using light and shadow. So a good way to start out is to use black and white and the various shades of grey that you can make with black and white. So, just to keep things simple, I will be painting a sphere shape for you. And, you're going to start at the bottom of the sphere, just adding some nice dark black, and as you work your way up, you're going to add more and more white to that black to make a lighter and lighter grey. And black tends to kind of take over white, so in order to get a middle tone grey, you're going to need more white than black. So as you work your way up the sphere, you;re just adding more and more white. And there will be one point kind of off-center at the upper part of the sphere that is just a very bright white, and that's gonna be a highlight. You might need to squeeze out some new white, 'cause at this point, your pallet will probably be pretty messy. Oh, and also remember to clean off your brush before you dip into the bright white. My name is Abbeth, and I just showed you a tonal approach to painting.

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