Saturday, October 22, 2011

Color and Value

Many of my students have a difficult time translating their black and white value sketches into color.
Either their value sketch doesn't have a clear pattern of value shapes (at least three), or when they transfer their idea to the paper and start to translate it into color, they are fine with the light values, but the midtones and darks don't seem to be clear enough.

Here's a reversal of the process.  I took a photo of my latest painting and used the computer to convert it to black and white.   You can clearly see that there are light areas, midtones (especially around the edges where I wanted the least emphasis), and darks where I wanted the viewers' eyes to be drawn. 

Some colors do not lend themselves to dark values.  Yellow is especially hard to go much beyond a light midtone.  But most other colors can be rendered darker merely by limiting the amount of water applied in the second or third glaze.  To maintain glowing transparency, it is important to be able to commit to the midtones and darks the first go, or you will have to try again with the real possibility of muddying the area.

Try changing your computerized image of one of your paintings into black and white to see if you have clearly rendered the three basic values.  It would be a helpful thing to do this during the stages of your painting, too, to see where placement of a dark would enhance the focal area.

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