You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘value study’ tag.
After practicing separating the lights from the shadows, the next lesson involved putting in the reflected light (in the shadow areas) and the half-tones (where the object begins to turn away from the light source). We did this in black and white first, as our teacher, Lee Boynton, is very good about teaching us one step at a time. The set-up at my place was a ceramic pitcher.
I can see now that the pitcher looks like it is floating a little because the shadow on the pitcher and the shadow on the table don’t meet at the same spot.
The following week, we each sat at the same place and did the same object again, but this time in color.
This pitcher was actually plum-colored, which I depicted in the shadow areas, but in the bright yellow light, it looked an orange-red.
Because I was painting from one adjacent area to the next before the paint dried, there are little lines of white paper separating some of the shapes so that the paint wouldn’t run into an adjacent area, as happened near the top of the pitcher.
The Impressionists were concerned with capturing the qualities of light and color in their paintings. Since the colors change so much depending on whether the object is in direct light or in shadow, one of our first challenges was to make several black and white studies, starting with a rectangular block, and delineating the difference between the lit side and the shadow side.
It sounded like an easy exercise, but I found it harder than I expected. The light side includes all of the area lit directly by the light source. Half-tones, formed when the plane of an object turns away from the light source, are still considered part of the light. The shadow side includes reflected light bouncing in from other objects. Especially in a round object, the light bouncing back off the tablecloth into the shadow made it difficult to determine where the shadow started.
In my earlier post I showed a tracing of the darks in the picture I am working on, “Sitting on a Curb.” For comparison, here it is again:
The next step was to make a negative of this tracing:
As you can see, I have modified some of the shapes. Seeing them in a different format, (here the negative image) helped to point out some needed changes. So now it is evaluation time. What questions do I need to consider?
Are the shapes recognizable and will they be interpreted to mean what I am trying to say?
Are the shapes interesting and entertaining? Do they interlock with each other?
Is there a dominance of either light values or dark values?
I think the shapes are fine, but I am concerned about the dominance. I think the lights and darks are about equal, so I am going to make the background grass become all a dark shape, with mid-values for texture.
Now the challenge is to apply this to the painting!
Yesterday in watercolor class, Gwen Bragg introduced us to another planning strategy. The first step is to take a sheet of tracing paper and make an outline drawing. Then, taking another piece of tracing paper, lay it over the first sheet and make a black and white value study, using a black marker and the white of the paper. The third step is to lay another piece of tracing paper over the first two and make a negative of the second drawing, filling in black where the white spaces are.
Those of you who have been following my blog may have noticed that the project I “launched” in January has fallen by the wayside. It got to a level where I liked what was happening but was struggling with what to do next. I also found that I was reluctant to continue for fear that I would mess it up. How much emotional investment do I have in this piece of paper and layer of paint? Too much, I guess! I have gone back to “Sitting on a Curb” and am applying this planning approach with it. Today I copied the line drawing and made the first value study.
I found several interesting things. First, I need to pay more attention to the edges of my shapes, making sure that they convey the information that is needed. Second, I have massed more of the shapes together, being forced to decide if an area should be dark or light and not falling back on a middle value. Third, I need to address the background shape above the children’s heads.
As I struggled with this today I became aware of how much WORK was really involved – and how much I wanted to avoid it! I would rationalize that I needed a break to clear my head and instead of going back right away, the vacuuming is done, the refrigerator is clean, and the piles of paper in the kitchen have disappeared. The ultimate in avoidance tactics will be when the checkbook gets balanced!
Tomorrow, I will decide on the background shape and then try the negative of this study.
Usually when I begin a painting, I start with a value study, shapes in black and white and shades of gray. In one lesson that Gwen taught we took this a step further using a homemade paint recipe for the color “Payne’s Gray” (ultramarine blue, burnt umber, and raw sienna). The areas in which the light was warm (sunlight, reflected light) received a warmer version of this color combination and the cooler areas received a bluer version. I used a photo of a house and the study turned out like this:
The next step was to then paint from the value study, without looking at the original photo. We were encouraged to pick three colors, a red, a blue, and a yellow, and limit ourselves to those three pigments. We could use a realistic rendering or use “broken color,” where pigments are dropped in and mixed together in the shapes. I tried the broken color scheme for this house. As I was painting, I didn’t like how the painting was turning out because of all the fairy castle colors – until I got the values dark enough. Then all of a sudden it clicked and looked right, even though the colors were imaginary.
It all served to teach me the truth of one of Gwen’s teaching maxims:
Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work.
Finally! My studio is under control again and I can work in there without feeling like the rubble is going to take over.
So I moved the sun today. Several times. I sketched Western View with sun shining on it from the east and then the west… in springtime. So I guess I moved the earth too. Anyway, I needed to see how the values would play out with light coming from different angles and falling on the shapes of the house.
As you look at the house you may wonder about the name Western View. The front of the house originally faced west. As you look at the photo from the previous post, and as you view these sketches, the western side would be the side that faces to the right of the image – actually not visible. But over time and with additions to the structure, the main entrance was moved to the north side, which is the full-on view that you see.
The above photo shows sun on the eastern side of the house (it must be morning!). I placed the darker values on the north-facing sides, and the bright value on the eastern side.
Now you can see the shadows (darker values) on the eastern side, with brighter values on the front (north side) of the house. I guess the sun is actually shining from the north-west.
Please pardon the wrinkly 20# bond that I use for value studies. It’s just a work sheet, so I don’t use fancy paper.
I though I would also include a few photos of the newly cleaned studio (I’m so proud of my cleaning!). You can see my work areas: granite-topped work table, and adjustable drafting board You can also see the photo studio arranged against the wall with lights in place facing a white background.