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Seeking Nuance in Values

Dear <<First Name>>,

Today I want to talk about seeking out the value gradations in your painting and to discuss a painting I completed early on in my journey in painting with oils.

Single Lemon by Elizabeth Floyd, oil, 6x6 inches, 2009

Above is one of my early paintings from February2009, two and a half years after I started painting with oils. I remember painting this piece because the day before working on it, I had made a decision to purposefully practice specific painting techniques with each small painting I completed.

Initially I identified three areas of technique I felt were important to master.  Color, values, and edge quality were classed in my mind as the painting fundamentals that needed special attention and practice if I wanted to improve rapidly.

It was with this painting of a lemon on a checked cloth that I made the commitment to work on color every time I painted, as well as either edge quality or value nuance.  By narrowing my focus to these specific technical skills, I found it easier to concentrate and make improvements in my craft.

Prior to this painting, I would always simplify my value shapes into three main values— light (local color), mid-tone, and shadow. This was the first painting in which I actively explored value nuance. I remember that I asked myself to seek out ten value gradations in the yellow of the lemon and to express them with color and value.

The painting is not a masterpiece, however I still have it because it reminds me of when I began to actively pursue painting mastery on my own and in my own way.

I believe it is very important to engage with your painting in a thoughtful and methodical way. By purposefully deciding on what I would focus on before I began a painting, I could then analyze the finished work through the framework of the technical skills I had practiced. If I had chosen color and value nuance to be my main technical push within the painting, I could then look at my results and see whether or not the focused attention had improved my skills in those areas. If the painting still lacked the effect I was aiming for -- for example if the lemon did not look rough and round in shape -- I knew I would need to repeat the painting exercise.

There was a time when I was painting a lot of lemons. However, the repeated practice paid off, and a few years later I was able to express the level of color and value nuance that intrigues me.

Lemon and Silver Cup by Elizabeth Floyd, oil, 8x6 inches, 2012

I would like to encourage you to do the same thing the next time you paint. Decide on a painting fundamental that needs attention in your skill set, and explore it with focus. Analyze the results and try another painting, taking knowledge gained from the previous experience. Repeat as often as you want.


I hope this inspires you to go out and paint purposefully.


With warm regards,


Group Classes at Great Falls, VA

Winter term starts Wednesday, January 24th

Floral Still Life with Oils

with Elizabeth Floyd
Wednesdays 2-5pm

Painting with Oils
with Elizabeth Floyd
Wednesdays 6:30-9:30pm

To learn more please visit the webpage, and feel free to email me with any questions.
Copyright © 2018 eLIZabeth Floyd Fine Art, All rights reserved.

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