Tone - tonal


A term referencing the degree of light absorbed and reflected by a color. Artists depicting various times of day and night as well as seasons are said to experiment with tonal qualities to create the setting. However, the term has a lack of clarity in that it has been used in multiple ways and took on additional meanings with the advent of Tonalism in France and then in America in the late 19th Century. In America, it has been both a prevailing or dominant color in a picture and harmonious coloration; in England a consistent or harmonious diffusion of light; and in France, harmonious values in the atmospherics of a painting. Sources: Kimberley Reynolds and Richard Seddons, "Illustrated Dictionary of Art Terms"; William Gerdts, 'American Tonalism: An Artistic Overview', "The Poetic Vision: American Tonalism", p. 17 (LPD)