Thursday, July 26, 2012

Valuing Value Studies

Final sketch after doing a value study


While sitting in the Moab library on our recent road trip, I perused Charles Reid's Watercolor Solutions, and it made me realize that I so often don't pay enough attention to values in my subject or scene when I sketch.  Sure, I have often seen the adage "Color gets all the credit, but value does all the work" but I often get so enamoured with color that I forget value.  Well, reading Charles Reid's book inspired me to focus on value, and actually do value studies using one color of paint.

I took a photo of a fruit-laden prickly pear in our neighborhood and converted it to black and white to help me see the values in my subject better:


B&W photo of my subject
Then after sketching the cactus I used sepia paint to do a couple of value studies.  I do have a tube of  Payne's Gray on order and I will want to use that for monochrome paintings as well:

Monochrome value studies
Doing such studies may not be practical when working out in the field, but at home I think it can be a good exercise, if not an essential intermediary step, in painting a subject.  

I am also a nature photographer, and as a photographer I tend to avoid photographing in bright sunlight (between the hours of 8am and 5pm, typically) because most things don't photograph at their best in that harsh light.  The light is not "golden", and the dynamic range of the camera is not enough to capture detail in the highlights and shadows.  However, I am learning that when doing watercolors, brighter light, and lots of contrast, highlights, and shadows, can make for some really cool and interesting paintings.  To make the most of this interesting light situation, I feel motivated to use value studies as a tool to focus on the range of light and shadow.

1 comment:

Susan Bronsak said...

I love your value study and final painting results! The painting sings out and love the variation in color you achieved!!!!