What the painter has to do is to see that the tone and colour design in his picture is governed by considerations of its emotional fitness to the impression he wishes to convey; and not, as is often the case, left entirely to considerations of truth to natural appearances, which may or may not give him the tone and colour scheme he needs.- Harold Speed Oil Painting Techniques and Materials
In this quote by Speed, we are being encouraged to use tone to convey emotion, even though the scene before us might represent an entirely different tonal range, full of the entire value scale.
Sometimes as realist or naturalist painters, we get too caught up in representing the actuality of the object or scene before us, and forget to impart enough of ourselves to our art. When we don't lose sight of our original intentions and the emotional message we wish to transmit, we often transcend talent, and create true art.
Jeremy Lipking's painting above is but one example of a successful compression of values to create an emotional theatre: in this case, the mid-tonal range has produced a feeling of calm and serenity, quietness and introspection. These feelings are further supported by Lipking's color scheme predominated by viridian, and the resulting overall cool hues in the portrait.
Contemporary Irish artist, P.J. Lynch accomplishes the same mood, in a similar manner, in his painting Cottage Plank Door, despite the lack of a human presence.
Both paintings are favorites of mine.