The Value of a Value 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:

Value study in Homemade Payne's Gray

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.

"A House with Value"

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.

One thought on “The Value of a Value Study

  1. I really like the value study one! Thanks for stopping by my blog & hope you enjoy The Secret Knowledge of Water if you read it.

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