Charles Warren Eaton

Armand Cabrera

Charles Warren Eaton was born in 1857 in Albany, New York.
He was raised by his father and older sister after his mother died when he was a child. At the age of 22 Eaton moved to New York City. In New York Eaton worked as a dry goods clerk to support himself and attended the Art Students League and the National Academy of Design on nights and weekends. In 1882 Eaton began to exhibit at the National Academy of design. His work reflected an interest in French Barbizon painting which was popular with collectors at the time.

In 1886 Eaton travelled to Europe visiting France, Belgium, Holland and England.
On his return to America Eaton moved to Bloomfield, New Jersey. It is here the artist fully embraced the tonalist style for his work, eschewing an impressionist sense of color and key for the majority of his career.

Between 1880 and 1910 the American tonalist movement was a departure from the Hudson River School and its highly rendered scenes of grandeur. Tonalism was more concerned with quieter places, where the atmosphere was the dominant factor. Artists sought to capture more subtle, muted effects of color while maintaining a dynamic range of value between light and shadow. Tonalism simplified forms and focused on atmospheric effects such as twilight, mist and moonlight to create a less representational and more poetic depiction of the landscape.

After 1910 Eaton used pine trees extensively as a motif in his paintings. These pictures secured the artists career. His paintings were awarded many medals including a gold medal at the Paris Salon de Artistes in 1906 for Gathering Mists. Eaton also garnered awards in America from the Salmagundi Club, The Philadelphia Art Club and the National Academy of Design. After 1910 Eaton abandoned Tonalism for a more impressionist style with a brighter palette. He continued to travel and paint making yearly trips to Italy.
Charles Warren Eaton died at the age of 80 in 1937.

BibliographyCharles Warren Eaton an American Tonalist Rediscovered
Charles Teaze Clark
Spanierman Gallery, LLC

Gari Melchers


Armand Cabrera

The Artist known as Gari Melchers was born Julius Garibaldi Melchers. He was named after an Italian patriot Giuseppi Garibaldi. Gari was born in 1860 in Detroit, Michigan. His father was Julius Melchers a sculptor, and he nurtured Gari’s interest in art.
At seventeen, Gari went to Dusseldorf to study painting at the Royal Prussian Academy of Art in Germany with Peter Johann Theodor Janssen and Eduard von Gebhardt. His studies focused on academic figure painting.

Following his study in Germany, Gari enrolled at the Ecole de Beaux-Arts and the Académie Julian in Paris in 1881, studying under Jules Lefebvre and Gustave Boulanger. In Paris, Gari adopted the style and motifs of the French Naturalist painters, specifically Jules Bastien-Lepage Lepage. His focus now was an unromantic view of contemporary peasant life.

In 1884, Gari and American painter George Hitchcock travelled to Holland. The artists founded a studio and an art colony and painted scenes of Dutch peasants. Here Gari painted The Sermon, 1886 It received an honorable mention at the Paris Salon that year and a gold medal in Munich at the International Salon there in 1888

At the 1888 Salon in Paris, Melchers received a third class medal for The Pilots, securing his reputation as a chronicler of Dutch peasant life.

In 1889, Gari exhibited four paintings at the Salon in Paris. They were The Sermon, Pilots, Communion and Shepherdess he and John Singer Sargent became the first two American painters to be distinguished with a Grand Prize at the Paris Universal Exposition.

Back in the United States Gari painted murals for 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago and Two Murals for the new Library of Congress in 1896 Peace and War. He also painted many portraits the upper echelons of American Society.

After 1900 Gari’s painting adopted the brighter palette and looser brushwork of the impressionist aesthetic. In 1909 he became professor of Art at the Grand Ducal Saxony School of Art in Weimar Germany until the outbreak of the first World War.

In 1915 Gari returned to the United States eventually buying Belmont, an eighteenth century estate in Falmouth, Virginia, near Fredericksburg. He was elected an academician of the National Academy of Design, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and served as president of the New Society of Artists from 1920-1928. Gari was also named to the Virginia Art Commission, chaired the Smithsonian Commission to Establish what would become Smithsonian American Art Museum and was a trustee of the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Gari Melchers died in 1932. In 1942, the artist’s widow, Corinne Melchers, deeded the property and its collections to the Commonwealth of Virginia as a memorial to her husband.


Gari Melchers: A Retrospective Exhibition
Diane Lesko
St Petersburg Museum of Fine Arts 1991

Gari Melchers, His Works in the Belmont Collection
B Joseph G. Dreiss
University Press of Virginia. 1984

Paris 1889; American Artists at the Universal Exposition
Annette Blaugrund
Harry Abrams and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts 1989

Beyond Impressionism: The Naturalist Impulse
Gabriel P. Weisberg
Harry Abrams 1992

Gari Melchers Home and Studio

Overcast Light

Armand Cabrera

An overcast day loses the direct light source of the sun and with it, most reflected light. When the sun is occluded by clouds or fog this leaves the scene with only ambient light or sky light. The difference is that this light is more neutral than on a sunny day when the color of this light is blue shifted from the sky color without clouds. In this type of lighting the objects have localized shadows and a tint from the cloud cover. Shadows tend to be warmer than they would be in full sunlight. The saying ‘cool light warm shadows’, applies here and can be used to great effect in this type of scene.


Color transitions are softer with subtle hue shifts and saturation shifts. Geometric planes are harder to discern. The direction for this light is top down as in most outdoor ambient light situations and the shadows have softer transitions. The lack of reflected light causes objects to darken in value toward their under planes continuously.

A full range of values is possible for overcast days but the light is shifted to the top planes and objects are dominated by local color with no strong light source to alter them. The light plane, upright plane and the shadow planes are closer together than they would be for objects in direct sunlight.

These kinds of days offer a longer period of time to paint from life because of the lack of a strong light source lessens the directional effect on shadows. More time allows for a more careful selection of the motif to maximize the pictures effectiveness as an overcast day painting.

Painting Moonlight

Armand Cabrera

Painting moonlight is not something people do much these days but I thought I would address the lighting effects from moonlight anyway. Moonlight is really strong reflected light and because of its weaker source, moonlight appears very cool to our eyes. Like ambient light, you lose the reflected light from other surfaces. The exception is in snow, where a strong enough phase of the moon with a clear sky will give you some reflected light, depending on the angle to the viewer.

The whole value scale is squeezed down to two thirds of the full normal value range. Edges lose their crispness compared to daylight situations and because of these lower values most hues have lower saturations. The cool light, warm shadows adage works well here too. Many painters start with a warm compliment wash of a deep red or yellow before painting the rest of the scene.

In a moonlit sky the light spreads out in prismatic order, this is especially apparent when clouds or fog is present and can add a dramatic effect if you are skilled enough to capture it.


One of the problems with painting at night is, it’s hard to find a good enough light source to paint by. I wear a head lamp that is used for camping and I have a barbecue light I can attach to my painting rig for my palette. It has a c-clamp style base and works well with all my various setups; French easel, pochades or A-frame easel. This way I can have light on my painting and palette at the same time, although I won’t be making any best dressed lists in this getup.

The biggest challenge of painting at night is finding a safe location that allows you to paint but won’t get the cops called on you. Most people think you’re pretty weird when standing around in one place with a headlamp on. If you get too far away from people, you run the risk of being harassed by the lower elements of society.

Too much blue in moonlight scenes seems to make them less effective than if an artist orchestrates his colors and shifts them to the cool end of the spectrum still retaining the reds and yellows and greens with less saturation and lower values. The form principle still applies in moonlight so shadows shift temperature from the lights. Moonlight is directional like sunlight, so the light, even though much weaker than the sun, is not top down and flat as the light on an overcast day.

Paintings in this article from top to bottom, Charles Rollo Peters, Knud Andreassen Baade, Frank Tenney Johnson, George Sotter, George Sotter, Frederick Remington

Charles Harold Davis 1856-1933


Armand Cabrera

Charles Harold Davis was born in 1856 in Amesbury Massachusetts. Davis left school at the age of fifteen to become an apprentice carriage maker. After viewing a show of Barbizon paintings Davis decided to pursue art. He studied at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for three years from 1877 to 1880. Davis then left for Paris to continue honing his ability.

 In Paris Davis studied briefly at the Academie Julian under Jules Joseph Lefebvre and Gustave Clarence Rudolphe Boulanger but after a year of study he left the academy which focused on figure painting to pursue painting the landscape outdoors. Davis decided to devote all of his time to landscape painting after painting in Normandy and the forests of Fontainebleau.

Davis moved to the small village of Fleury near Barbizon and began to show at the Salon starting in 1881. In the Paris Salon of 1887 he won an honorable mention. He also exhibited his work at the Pennsylvania Academy, the Society of American Artists and the National Academy of Design. He had his first solo Exhibition in America in 1887 at Reichard and Company New York. In 1889 he won a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris.

  In 1890 Davis returned to America permanently and settled in Mystic Connecticut. In 1895 he changed his style to a brighter palette and more vigorous brushwork.  He won the Lippincott Prize from the Pennsylvania Academy in 1901 The Altman Prize from the national Academy in 1917 and a Gold Medal at the Pan pacific Exposition in San Francisco in 1915. In 1913 he started the Mystic Art Association.


Paris 1889 American Artists at the universal exposition

Annette Blaugrund

Abrams 1989


 I do not think that a piece of nature in a frame though wonderfully well done is very desirable as a picture effect; eloquent arrangement, I may say is for me the first thing to strive for.