Tonalist paintings -
Joseph McGurl, "Lunar Magic on the Hudson River," oil, 12 x 16 in.

“Shades of Gray” is the inaugural exhibition of the American Tonalist Society, presented by the historic Salmagundi Club in NYC, May 3–10, 2019.

The American Tonalist Society was founded in 2016 by four East Coast artists, Daniel Ambrose (FL), Eleinne Basa (NJ), Donald Demers (ME), and Mary Erickson (NC) during a summer artists’ retreat in Port Clyde, Maine. Discussions around the dining room table prompted conversations about the recycling of past ‘isms’ and current progression of art styles. The tonalist movement is now seeing a resurgence, following the popularity of plein air painting in the 19th century and classical realism in the early part of this century.

Tonalist paintings -
Denise LaRue Mahlke, “Thin Ice,” pastel, 12 x 16 in.
Tonalist paintings -
John MacDonald, “Berkshire Dusk,” oil, 12 x 16 in.

The tonalist movement focuses on emotion, spirituality, and mood, encompassing luminous atmospheric effects with a minimal palette of neutral hues. Like visual poetry, tonalist paintings evoke a quiet statement of contemplation, mystery, and intrigue.

Signature Membership in the American Tonalist Society recognizes artists working in the tonalist tradition and honors professional standing in the community. In addition to the founders, there are more than 20 artists participating in the exhibition, including Brent Cotton, Donald Jurney, Joseph McGurl, Deborah Paris, Nancy Howe Russell, Karen Vance, and Denise LaRue Mahlke.

Tonalist paintings -
Nancy Howe Russell, “Leap Year,” oil, 24 x 18 in.
Tonalist paintings -
Jennifer Moses, “Resplendence,” oil, 28 x 30 in.

David A. Cleveland is the foremost authority on the tonalist movement in America and author of the award-winning A History of American Tonalism. Mr. Cleveland is presenting a lecture on American tonalism, with a Q & A panel discussion, on May 4.

Tonalist paintings -
Don Demers, “Light,” oil on linen, 30 x 40 in.

For more details on the ATS, its inaugural exhibition, and scheduled events, visit

From the editor: We’re proud to announce that Joseph McGurl, Don Demers, and John MacDonald are all part of our Streamline Premium Art Videos collection. Learn more about their video painting workshops here:
Advanced Landscape Painting – NEW! (by Joseph McGurl)
Painting Light and Atmosphere (by Joseph McGurl)
Mastering a Nautical Scene (by Don Demers)
Poetic Landscapes (by John MacDonald)

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