Monday, March 6, 2017

Step Three: Value Study

Here we are at Step Three of a seven-part series on creating a painting from conception to framing. Step One discussed inspiration and Step Two covered computer design.

Step Three is the probably most hated step among my workshop students. Beginner students find it difficult to understand how a small, black and white rough sketch can improve their paintings. It takes time and lots of practice to see the benefit of arranging your painting into simple black and white value shapes. The arrangement and adjustments of the value shapes can make or break a painting.

In Step Two, I showed you the initial computer design for my painting, Disconnected.

I took the image of the mother and child and combined it in Photoshop with the image of the stained-glass window and a brick wall. If you squint your eyes at the design, you can see that there is not a good mix of light and dark values. The stained-glass window, the upper left shadow, and the figures are almost the same value and there is no impact. The shapes all blend together. I can adjust those values with a little sketch.

In the value sketch, I adjusted the lights and darks so that the highest contrast on the mother, keeping her the focal point despite the busy stained-glass window behind her. The window is mid to dark values with the darker shapes leading from the upper, right corner to the figures. The figures are framed by the vertical and horizontal lines. 

Next week: Color studies.

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