September 14, 2015
Being able to see values before we make color decisions is a thoroughly rewarding task. We obviously can not see anything without darks and lights and could actually make our way around in life without color, as boring a thought as that might be. By training our eye to reduce the amount of values that are in our study we are advancing. Some artists work with a 10 value approach, while others practice working with 5 values: light; light-medium; medium; medium-dark; dark. Even better: 3 values! With the goal of reducing all shapes to light, mid-tone and dark, the nuances of values that fall between these 3 goals just happen by default.
Dry medium such as graphite pencil, conte and charcoal are the standard mediums for sketching, drawing and working out value studies, however once we’ve gained confidence it’s time to explore these values in paint. I find conte to be an excellent medium to work in since it has the line drawing and shading capabilities of a pencil, yet is water soluble and helps get a “feel” for wet medium. Note that in these studies the goal each time is to keep to the 3 values. We can see that in the oil painting example, the “wipe-out” method is useful in establishing an immediate mid-value. This method differs from the grisaille whereby the values are painted much like a mosaic of variations of values. The direct wiping out of planned areas simplifies the task. Often this method serves as an underpainting for color glazing.