A Lesson in Values

Tangle 6 (rollover image to reveal value structure)

In this post, I want to show how my painting "Tangle 6", while rich in color, is also very much anchored in strong values. To get a better understanding of color and values, as you squint, really squint, rollover the image above to eliminate the color and the value structure will be revealed. Notice how the lights still hold as a group and my shadows still maintain the solidity of the form -- in both the black and white and the color version.

There are painters who work with a tonal palette where light is achieved through the use of values e.g., Corot.

Color to value comparison of Corot's "The Solitude. Recollection of Vigen"

In contrast, there are painters who work with strong color or rich chromatics to suggest a sense of light e.g., Monet.

Color to value comparison of Monet's "The Path Under the Rose Trellises"

And then there are painters who combine both strong tonal concepts and color to create, to my mind, a more palpable sense of place. That's what this little lesson's all about.

Here are some details from my painting "Tangle 6" to view. Rollover the image and don't forget to squint for the values and keep your eyes open for the color.

Detail 1 (rollover to reveal value structure)

In Detail 1 we have rich greens, reds, oranges and gold that interact, contrast and create a lot of visual excitement. Look carefully at the red stroke in the lower center. It lies within a green field -- a very strong chromatic contrast. Rollover the image to reveal the black and white and notice how the red disappears and merges within the green. While the color is snappy, the value of red and green are identical. The overall value is held but the vibrancy of those contrasting colors is gone. You will also notice in other parts of this detail, similar effects are in play. While the black and white version still has a sense of light, it doesn't have the complexity of life.

Detail 2 (rollover to reveal value structure)

In Detail 2 notice when you view the black and white version, how the background becomes somewhat flat. In the color version, there is atmosphere -- variations of blues, lavenders and purples held in the same value to create an anchored space in the painting. You can do anything you want with color within a given shape as long as the values are consistent. That's what holds that space in the painting and maintains it in the background.

Detail 3 (rollover to reveal value structure)

Detail 3, while graphically strong in black and white, the color reveal gives it the sense of softer reflected light. Again, contrasting color, similar values keeps it in the shadows.