Wait, what in the world is value?
In this case, we're not talking about what a work of art is worth (though stay tuned as we will address that topic at a later date!)
Value is how light or dark a color is. White holds the lightest value, and black is the darkest value. Our eyes see first in light and dark, and see color second.
The secret to creating dynamic, wow-worthy artwork is to focus on the value.
The simple, analog version is to squint. You see, when you squint your eyes, they won’t focus on the colors, instead, the different values of the colors will become more apparent. This is a great technique if you are trying to figure out if two very saturated colors are of a similar value. I use this all the time when mixing colors and while paintings.
This day and age, there's a simple solution: take a quick photo oh the scene with your smart phone.
Compose the scene like you would want it to look in your painting. Use the editing tools on your phone and select the “black and white” option on it.
Ask yourself if your eye is drawn to the image, and whether it gets stuck in a particular area or if it moves around the composition comfortably.
The image in black and white will help you to see its values without the distraction of color. If it appears to have even shades of grey, then it probably doesn’t have enough contrast or flow.
Following these simple steps will help you determine if there is enough variety of value in your composition. Because if the black and white version doesn’t work, color won’t save it either!
I had noticed feeling differently about images I was planning to upload, just because I looked at them without color. But it never occurred to me to purposely use the phone as a tool in that way. Thank you for sharing.
Great post on value! Thanks for sharing
Yay! I loved our 1:1 yesterday but didn’t know what to ask you! But you know what to teach me if that makes sense. I never had formal training (except classes here and there) so learning from the ground up is so incredible for me….it excites me to learn more, paint more, see more. Thank you Shelby!!
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Are you feeling uninspired, stuck for ideas, and unsure what to create? Perhaps you are learning or have developed skills but are not sure where to take them next? You are not alone.
Read on for some tips to help yourself escape a creative rut.
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July 14, 2020
Found your info on FB yesterday! I love your style and watching you paint. Would enjoy learning with you. I have taken a short class last summer did watercolor before that. .