Tuesday, July 19, 2011


One of the six value patterns described by Ed Whitney is alternation.  It's a kind of checkerboard pattern with no real light source.  Alternating white, gray and black with a few touches of warmth for relief, here's a painting which illustrates the technique.

Basically, I established the white shapes using the grays.  Then I added the blacks, either within a gray shape or next to a white.  You should be able to look at any valued shape and find the other two tangent to it.  There are a few exceptions, but mostly alternation is present everywhere.

Scroll down and see Second Chance for a color version of this technique.
Beware!  This is way harder than it looks!


  1. ok, so cobalt, bt sienna, and cad red medium(accent) is close enough), will do it, that's great, Carol, ur a gem. The freshness is great, I gotta do that, Gordon...

  2. I've spent far more time than I should searching the Internet for alternation/checkerboard value patterns and have so far failed to find a good/reasonable source of inspiration. Several authors of painting books have mentioned this in passing but none spend more than part of a page describing alternation/checkerboard.

    Since you mentioned it, do you know of any good reference sources I could consult?

    all the best

  3. James, Thanks for your comments and questions about alternation. Edgar A. Whitney first introduced the term to me, and Robert E. Wood has much to say about it in his book.