Back to the Studio- Values

Values are how bright or dark a color is. Think of those color strips that you find at the paint store which have samples of a paint color running from darkest to lightest. Still, I find this description a bit confusing. It is easier for me to think of values as what a color looks like in full sun versus in the shade.

For this lesson, our photo reference was two women under a parasol in a yard. The sun is beating down on them and they are wearing light colored clothes. We were also restricted in our palette, either paint with the three primary colors (red, blue, yellow) or paint with only complementary colors (I chose yellow and purple for my first one) or choose colors next to each other on the color wheel (purple, red and green for the second one).

The paintings aren’t pretty, but I did feel I learned something.

yellow and purple value study                  oil                        8 x 10

I’m struggling with edges in this piece. Particularly in the background, my edges are too sharp (around that wall). Fuzzy edges push the front figures forward.

Parasol Nocturne                       oil                    9 x 12

While I think this second one is better designed (the composition is more interesting) the colors came out very wacky. Why are those women so red? What’s the deal with the weird blue and green highlights? But….this did give me some ideas for how a Nocturne (night) painting could work.

So, in the remaining time with too much paint left on my palette, I whipped out this one based on a photo reference of my husband and sons taking a break in the shade after a long day of palace sight seeing. The photo I took is not the best, but you get the idea.

trio study                                               oil                                           9 x 12

Everyone in class thought it looked like they were sitting around a campfire- those orange highlights will do that!

That is one thing that art class has taught me- reflected light and the colors of shadows. Newsflash: shadows have a color and it isn’t black. It is a darker value of whatever they are cast against. Pay attention next time you see some shadows! Light gets reflected onto other things even if those things don’t seem particularly ‘reflective’. If you don’t believe me, play the dandelion flower game. Take a yellow dandelion flower and hold it under someone’s chin and you will see the skin under their chin reflected yellow. At this point you can say, “You like butter!”


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