THE JUPITER EXPEDITION — A Study in Tonal Harmony

I generally keep my work color-neutral until the final stages, preferring to concentrate on concept, composition, design, and focal point before developing a color palette. This insures that the work has a solid tonal foundation which isn’t lost when color is applied.

Simply stated, tonal harmony is “a pleasing pattern in the balance between light and dark.” Before I introduce my latest work, THE JUPITER EXPEDITION, I’d like to point out a technique you may find useful when evaluating the tones in your own art: Convert to grayscale.

Before you send your paintings, photographs or digital creations into the world, look at them in grayscale. Does the work hold up in a pleasing way, or is color being used to disguise tonal deficiencies? Some art is intended to be low-contrast, but if your work can benefit from balanced tonal separation and tonal harmony, there is no quicker way to identify areas of weakness than with grayscale.

Now, on to the new art! I like lost civilizations, ancient tombs and daring expeditions. But…can those themes — and especially those feelings — be conveyed in abstract works of art? I think so, and with a fair amount of drama and imagination. THE JUPITER EXPEDITION was very exciting to work on, from the first tentative anchor shapes to the tattered edges and bleeding tones, to the final explosion of crimson and gold. For me, it is a remarkably satisfying piece. I hope it is for you, too.

As shown —
Finished size: 46.0″ x 32.8″
Print on Somerset Velvet Fine Art: 32.0″ x 18.0″
Frame: Wide Bronze Scoop, 3.5″ width
Top Mat: Digital White, Width: Top 3.25″, Bottom 4″, Sides 3.25″
Bottom Mat: Crimson
Glazing: Non-glare Acrylic

THE JUPITER EXPEDITION is available for purchase (in a variety of sizes and substrates) as of this moment. You may contact me directly to answer questions or assist you with your order, or click here to order now.


  1. Absolutely fantastic! I think this is your best work to date. Please, PLEASE keep up the most excellent work!

  2. Dan, you are such an inspiration! Every artist in the country should receive and ingest your blog on a weekly basis. I loved the gray scale too!

  3. I certainly intend to, Misha; thanks for your comment. I am eager to see what happens next!

  4. Hello Lori, thanks for visiting and leaving a comment. You’re an inspiration, too. Keep up the good work and please come again!

  5. Love it, Dan! Thank you for a peek into your process.

    By the way, Calvin Leon Mays was born Sept 9 at 8:15am. Little tike at 5 lbs 14oz and 19 inches long. Baby and mom are doing well.

  6. Congrats, Brian! Little CLM, eh? Catchy. How’s the Dad doing? Does this spin your head around or what?!!

    Little Calvin is about to embark on a great adventure.

  7. The head spins just a little bit. But I’ve been thinking about all the fun things I’ll get to teach and experience with him. I’m going to get him a little stuffed tiger and he’ll be Calvin & Hobbes for Halloween this year.


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