Maybe “its all about value” is something of an exaggeration. However there is some truth in the fact that value, the relative light and darkness of a composition is key in making impactful and successful work.
I had an interesting experience and some very useful learning on this subject in the last couple of days or so. If you read my blog you will know I did a 12 week online course at the beginning of last year with Nicholas Wilton . The course had a huge impact on my painting. Nick talks a lot about how important value is to design. In fact the first few weeks of the course are spent looking at this. And he stresses that it is one of the first areas to consider in evaluating work.
Recently I had nearly completed a couple of paintings and had posted them for feedback in a group I am part of. I received some very helpful comments that were mainly about value. That in both of the paintings the suggestions were to review values and look to increase the differences in the light and dark. I found myself feeling really resistant to making changes. Afterwards I understood that it was because I had an idea in mind I wanted to pursue and I was unwilling to let go of it. It took a chat to a friend and fellow artist who has lot of experience in design to bottom out my resistance. Our conversation was all about how sometimes, no matter how much you may want to include something in a piece of art or design, you may just have to let it go and move on.
Review in Greyscale
So my moving on process involved printing of a value scale. I realised that had not been checking values in my work often enough. Lesson number 352 in remembering to so this on a regular basis from now on. I looked at the piece again and really considered the values in it. As I did this I realised that I had, without really considering it, made a painting that was quite dark, as the differences in value were negligible. If you look at the two images above you can see what I mean. Looking at the version in grey scale, then it is mostly a work in the 5 – 10 range. It doesn’t stimulate the eye with contrast and difference. Because the grey is a dark grey the black shapes do not stand out as much as they would if the grey was much lighter.
What about the learning points? I have a habit of painting dark and I need to keep a value scale to hand to help me with this for while. I’ve gotten into the habit of not checking often enough.
Do not fall in love too soon (again) Click to see my other post on this. And be prepared to give up something. Or maybe find a way to scratch that creative itch in another way.
Feeling resistant? Don’t ignore it. Explore it and see what this might be about as there is probably some useful learning to be had from your resistance.
What tools do you find most helpful in your work? Have you had a similar experience? How did you resolve it?