Friday, March 19, 2010

Color as Value Lesson

I find that the place most students get stuck is translating color into value. Finding the right colors and values is all about viewing your subject matter as values in relationship to each other. One aspect of the still life will appear as one value, if you are looking at it in isolation, but the trick is to look at everything in relationship to each other, according to their values. Students often try to determine the value of any given part of the setup, but if they are looking at it in isolation, their values will be off. Its about seeing all values in the context of the entire setup - NOT in isolated pieces.

Here is an example of the setup we had in class today at Rye Arts Center - as well as my quick value (charcoal) sketch (approx. 3"x2") and my acrylic painting, done in about 20 minutes, on 9x12 paper/board. I pushed the values, somewhat, making the background the darkest value and assigning the items in the still life a light value and 2 shades of grey. While I worked on the painting, I taped the value sketch in front of me to make sure that I'm staying on target. This value sketch is my "road map". If I am satisfied with the values I established in the sketch, I will stick with them thru the painting, regardless of the variations in the actual setup.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Student's Work

One of the things I'm a real stickler for, in my own work and as a teacher, is getting the values right. I'm not concerned with getting the exact colors, because the type of painting I teach is not about photo realism. I encourage my students to explore and take lots of artistic license with color - with one stipulation - the color has to match the value. Before they start painting, my students all do a value sketch, in charcoal. This serves as their roadmap to how they have translated the subject into 3 or 4 values. Whenever there is a question as to why something is not working, we look at the value sketch and its usually apparent. Most often, when there is a problem, it is because they have strayed from the value sketch, and re-interpreted the colors, switching values.

I wanted to post a painting that one of my beginner students did a couple of weeks ago. This is a perfect example of working within the values, determined by the charcoal sketch, and working intuitively with colors. A perfect example of, "if the values are correct, the painting will work regardless of color". Bravo, Susan - well done!