Value Exercise




FOUR YEARS AGO (yikes!) I posted this about diving into watercolor painting.

Imagine how good my painting would be today if I'd actually stuck with painting then.
Sigh.
I'm trying not to dwell on "what if's." This is EXACTLY my point about pushing through the bad drawings/boring exercises. If we practice--every day--the skills which we want to improve so we can better communicate our ideas, in time we'll see the results of all of that effort. If only I'd known then what I know now...
Anyway, back to this post...

I've learned since by first steps into learning about color and watercolor painting is that I must first learn about VALUES, the levels of light and dark i.e., grays.

This is Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" in color:



And what it looks like with the values only, no hues (colors) :



From what I've learned, there is no color without value. It's one of color's two primary components, the other component being chroma (the amount of brightness and dullness). Once we learn how to see and accurately determine values, we're one step closer to learning to paint, choose and use color.

Again, I stumbled upon this video called "Week 1: Master Studies - Noah's Art Camp" by artist Noah Bradley who has the instructional site Art Camp. This free video is an incredibly helpful, two hour and 21 minute tutorial about how to practice seeing values, composition and color.

Still from tutorial Master Studies painting values-Noah's Art Camp."
I expected to easily knock this exercise out. But once I sat down to do it, I couldn't even get the composition properly placed in the frame let alone analyze the values! Unfortunately I did my usual and tossed the exercise aside, annoyed with my lack of skill. But now I've decided to tackle it again, realizing that the ability to place the composition in the frame is a skill in itself and one worth learning. My future landscape drawings and paintings will depend on getting over this hump now.

These are my new attempts. I look forward to posting them regularly to note the progress (and yes, there WILL be PROGRESS!):

Instead of painting these exercises digitally as Noah does, I've decided to start simpler by using some Prismacolor 20%, 50% and 80% cool gray markers. Those are the only three tones I'm using in these exercises, basically a highlight, medium tone and shadow (Noah suggest not using more than four tones.) I chose those particular markers solely because Doug Chiang, artist and designer, uses them (click on "Studio Tips" on his site to see his tools. I misread his 70% marker for 80% but no biggie). If Chiang uses it, I'm going to use it!


These are my first attempts based on the painting "The Arch of Constantine Seen from the Colesseum": 




Clearly I was struggling with this exercise! But unlike my original attempts, I'm NOT giving up because I failed. I'm going to keep going until I no longer create failures. Notice how the pencil drawing on the right has a stronger sense of composition than the straight-ahead value studies.

Every day I get closer…

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