The Value of Value

A Workshop in Black, White and Gray

We will explore:

The Achromatic Scale, Negative Space and its Impact on Perceived Grays (Contextual Contrast), Saving White for Brights, Clustering for Value and Composition, Counterchange, and Demo in Grisaille Glazes.

Job’s Point Bend
Ink, Watercolor and Dense Gouache on Arches Rough

Post Course Resources


Exercises to Push the Contrast

Exercise 1:

Exercise 1: Zoning Out
Take a photograph and break it into odd zones. Near (most contrast), middle (less contrast, far (last contrast) and then challenge yourself to break that same photo into 5 zones.

Exercise 2:
Value Patterns in Black
Set up a still life and light it from one side. Do a contour line drawing with a Uniball pen.  Then with a brush and India ink or black paint indicate value patterns in solid black.

Exercise 3: It’s All In the Air
Set up a still life and light it from one side. Do two paintings of the same objects. Look for light, shadow and contrast within the objects. Finish one with a plain background and finish the other with a dark against light to light against dark background (called counterchange). The negative space and how it is addressed can change the mood and dynamic of any painting. This is contextual value. The gray in the context of its neighboring color may increase or dull its contrast.

Exercise 4: Optical Density and Simple Grisaille
Make a small study in black white and gray. Keep the grays medium dense, whites thick and darks thin and scumbly. Then when dry glaze transparent color over your painting.

In summary:
“Value trumps color – for color to sing it needs serious consideration of the local value and where you lead the viewer. Don’t let them walk out of your painting uninterested. Take them on a good journey resting from time to time.”