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Dear <<First Name>>,

When I first began learning to paint, I was obsessed with mastering the technical skills of paint application. I broke them into three distinct areas of study: 1) mastering expressive color; 2) getting the correct value relationships; and 3) depicting visual depth through the use of edge quality.
 
Today I want to discuss values and how interconnected they are with all other aspects of painting, especially color and form.
 
In a painting, you have the entire gamut of values to work with, from the lightest light to the darkest dark. Notice I did not say the lightest white to the darkest black. This is because I do not see in a monochromatic way, instead I see the world as being very colorful. Every white in nature, it is really just a very light color tint, and every black is just a very dark color shade.  All blacks in nature have an underlying color and temperature structure. Blacks can be very desaturated; however, in my opinion, a painting will always be more striking if there is a sense of color in the darks of your painting.
 
Peter Polkas, Sap Rising, 
An example of a painting with colorful whites that create a sense of volume and form
Jeremy Mann, Los Angeles
An example of a painting with colorful darks, even the lights are colorful
Also, values are intimately related to the depiction of form in a painting. You cannot have a daub of paint on the canvas that is not some shape. Even if the shape is happenstance, it does affect the expression of form in your painting. The same holds true for the relationship of values connected to color. This is because each color has its own value.

This is most easily discerned with pure saturated colors, in that a pure medium yellow will always be lighter in value than a pure medium red.
Top Row:  Cad Yellow Medium Value and Cad Red Medium
Bottom Row:  Desaturated image of Cad Yellow Medium Value and Cad Red Medium
See what I mean?  A true saturated yellow will never have the value weight that a saturated red does.  However a desaturated yellow that has been mixed with other colors can begin to darken in value, but still may never reach the dark value of a red.

Did you ever see the movie “The Girl with the Pearl Earring”?

There is a scene in the movie when Vermeer asks Griet, the maid, what colors she sees in the clouds. She answers initially, “White”, but then she begins to see the nuances of different colors within the “whites” of the clouds.  An artist could use the colors listed by Griet to paint a visual representation of clouds. 
 
The expression of form by using variations of color masses is my favorite way to paint.  It is made possible because you can adjust and alter the values of your color notes, thus modeling form by color and value together. 
 
These interconnected relationships of form, value, and color are what make painting such an engrossing practice, and inspire me to keep striving to improve my craft. The next time you are at your easel painting a scene, think about the values you see and where they fall within the value spectrum. Then analyze the color notes represented in those values.  Try to express the form of the subject by combining the analysis of value and color together.  Paint like a colorist.
 
I hope you have a wonderful holiday season.  I will be back with new topics to share.  I can’t wait to share more with you!
 
With warm regards,
Liz
Copyright © 2017 eLIZabeth Floyd Fine Art, All rights reserved.
 

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