Archive for June, 2011

Lessons of Value, Part 2

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

To help my students recognize the importance and effectiveness of a good value range in their work, I had them begin a project, as I wrote about last time, with a monochromatic under layer to establish their values. The second stage of the project was to introduce supplemental color.

I limited my students to the use of only two additional colors, of their choice. I opted to use brown madder and raw sienna over my own indigo base in “Stones in Shell Dish” (#110307).

110307 Stones in Shell Dish (final)

I began with a light wash of raw sienna across the entire dish, then glazed more localized areas with one or more of my three colors to achieve the effect I wanted. The more I worked, the more I continued to increase the value range that even the initial monochrome study had not reached. I cannot tell you how many glazes I applied, because I didn’t keep track. Layer after layer after layer went on. I worked on the piece for several weeks, both in class and out of class, until I was finally satisfied with it.

My students weren’t the only ones who learned from that lesson. But that’s part of why I enjoy teaching. There’s always something more to learn. And one of the best ways to learn is by doing the assignments right along with my students.

Lessons of Value, Part 1

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

I thought it would benefit my students this spring to see how to create a good range of value without simultaneously dealing with the complicating factor of variable colors.

There were several previous lessons I wanted to reinforce. But the primary lesson I wanted them to learn was to focus solely on value changes, ignoring color entirely. So the assignment was to create a monochromatic painting in the single hue of their choice to act as a base layer, over which supplemental color would later be glazed. I elected to work in indigo as my underlying shadow color for “Stones in Shell Dish” (#110307).

110307 Stones in Shell Dish (monochromatic study)

I began with a drawing that depicted only the hard edges of the still life. We used gradation to achieve soft lines and lost edges. It was not an easy assignment. But I think it’s safe to say that everyone learned a lot about painting shapes instead of objects, creating graded washes in both large and small areas, achieving smooth transitions from one value to another, reserving highlights and reclaiming light areas that had been lost. They also learned to recognize that visible lines meant there was still work to be done—increasing value on one side or the other of the line until the drawn line disappeared and the value change itself was all that marked the division of elements.

Next time I’ll discuss the finished, full-color version.