Monday, April 15, 2013

Tippette #15 - Mixing the Right Values

Tippette = Snippet of a Tip (in watercolor).  One per day...during April...right here!  Tell a friend!

In my April 13 POST, I touched on the subject of Value and promised I'd spend more time on the concept in a future post, so here we are.

Mixing the Right Values

Value refers to how dark or light a pigment is.  You use value to accomplish contrast.

High key:  When a painting is mostly done with pastel colors like this one.

Low key:  When mostly dark colors are used.

Some artists rely on as many as 10 values in their paintings.  I suggest you not worry too much about keeping up with that.  I do, however, think that you need at least 3 values.  You need lights, mediums and darks.  So let me show you how to quickly create each.

I like to tell my students that a "dark value" has the consistency of cream when you create your puddle.  The "middle value" has the consistency of 1% milk and the "light value" has the consistency of tea (very see-through).  Easy, right?  If I know I need all 3 values, I mix my dark first.  Then I pull part of it over to the right and I add a touch of water (with my brush) to slightly thin it out. Then I pull some of that second mixture on over to the right again, and add more water.  That's it!

Creating 3 values of French Ultramarine Blue

Below, I'm showing you how my 3 French Ultramarine Blue values look when painted first into clear water (wet into wet) in the top row, and painted on to dry paper (wet into dry) in the bottom row.  

Dark, Medium & Light Values
Row 1:  I wet the paper first.  Allows softer edges but the paint is also lighter than when painted on dry paper.
Row 2:  Painted onto dry paper.  Ends up with harder edges and resulting color is darker (or at least more solid) than in Row 1.

If you want things to look closer to you, paint them darker.  Conversely, things that are further away should be rendered with paler values.  All this supports the concept of aerial perspective (a future topic?).
Come with Helen K. Beacham and Kelly Medford to paint Venice this October...
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