Saturday, June 5, 2010

Class is in Session

ive discovered that i have two great loves, three really (annibell my honey)
love to paint and love to teach. never knew how much till i go awhile without doing it. just like most of you who read this blog crave to paint regularly i crave to teach if i go too long without doing it. so i'm getting my "fix" and scratching the itch when i have an online lesson. so dont thank me. i'm being very selfish LOL
so here goes. today we'll talk about values. alot of you have taken my workshops and know that i'll spend about two out of the three days banging home the importance of values to good painting. if i could work on just one thing for a year to be a better painter what would it be? values, values and more values.
in the ateliers in michaelangelos and davinci's time (and after) the students painted in black and white paint for three years before ever being allowed near a color. they drew incessantly and painted monochrome. shows the importance of it eh?
here ive shown you my homemade value gadget. i took a value scale i bought at jerrys artarama and sliced it in half laying it lengthwise in a piece of plastic. i do this so i can paint right on the plastic to test my values. it wipes right off! my next thing will be to put one right on my palette permanently.
here ive approximated what i saw in a photo i had of this guy with a fish. i painted five values across the top as you can see. i said to myself that in this little value study that i was going to paint it as close to the photo as i could with these five and no more. so i mixed up five big piles of paint and began. i painted the darkest shapes with the far right pile (the darkest paint). i then decided that the second darkest shape(s)was the skin in shadow so i used the pile second from the right. i also did the fish which is in shadow with it too. the lightest shadows i decided was the t-shirt so i did that in the middle value. in essence having three dark values and the two remaining would be the lights. on the photo everything was skewed dark so i didnt know if the highly reflective fish picking up light from the boat floor was really the same value or darker than the t-shirt shadow so i made it the same. now all the shadow shapes were in. next i jump to the light family and painted the shirt in sunlight with the pure white, the second lightest big shape in light was the sky so i did that with the second lightest pile of paint.
now heres where it got dicey. traditionally everything and i mean everything in the light has to be lighter than everything in the dark. always. i wanted the water dark like in the photo. it really made the guys white shirt pop out doesnt it. but i broke the rule. the water is darker than my lightest dark (the t-shirt)
i did it the way the photo showed it. i broke the rule. they can be broken to design a better painting but will it look better if i stick with the rule and get the tshirt shadow darker than the water. now i could cheat and mix up five more piles (values) and make the water just a hair lighter than the tshirt shadow by moving the values to the right about two steps on my handy dandy value guide. but i want to see what i can do to make this work out using a middle value that is indeed right in the middle of black and white.
tomorrow i'm going to paint over this one and do it the right way, having nothing in the light darker than anything in shadow. remember, water is always in the light because it faces up to the sky which is always light. but remember that its a painting and if the water looks better being darker than it should be, do it. could be the reason the water is so dark is that we are looking at a rough sea where we're seeing the backside (or shadow side) of the wave. i'll see tomorrow what happens when i paint the water lighter than the tshirt shadow. i might hate it and paint it back this way. in planning this one i went with three darks for the shadows. the middle pile, second from the end and the end. tomorrow i'm going to see what happens if i have three light values instead of two, and two dark values. we'll see what that one looks like and maybe do one more. i want to see how i can make it work so that nothing EVER in the light (ie. the water) is darker or the same as ANYTHING in shadow. thats what playing around with these value sketches will do. give you different ways to paint something and not just copying the values off a photo, which is usually keyed to dark and you cant see too good into the shadows or its keyed too high where everything is glarey and you cant see whats happening in the light shapes. i usually save my reference photos, after playing with them on photo editor, tweaking one really overexposed, one normal and one underexposed. that way i can bounce back and forth and see into every shape and use the normal one (sorta) as the value map. tho' i sometimes have to change it like i think i'll have to in this excercise. hope these blatherings help you do better paintings. i know its crucial stuff.
dont forget my DVD sale this week. sold quite a few this week after advertising on the blog a few days ago. the sale will end next friday. its 2 DVDs for $25 and 5 to ship. the subjects are
painting an urban scene plein air, painting a larger boat painting from a plein air sketch, painting a barn from a plein air sketch (jerrys artarama's best seller of all their titles by any artist i'm told) painting beachhouses from a plein air sketch. email me with the titles of the ones you want and i'll send you a paypal invoice where you can pay with Paypal or credit card.


The Artist den said...

Thanks for the lesson. I am going to have to give it a try myself. I was surprised you didn't use your magenta! Dean

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,
I'd like to share info on a great value finder. This is a simple small piece of clear hard plastic that you paint a value scale on using Golden acrylic grays. Number them.
To use it hold it over the pile of paint that you've mixed and squint. The spot of value on the finder will disappear if it is the correct value or you can adjust until you have it right.
For more information you can go to this website: Mike,

Anonymous said...

I posted the link for Brad Tear's blog where the information can be found on the value finder but the link is dead. (even without the Hi Mike at the end...that was a mistake) Just Google Brad Tear and go back about 8 older posts for the information. Sorry.

Steve said...

Mike, I'm vouching for your DVDs (not that you need anyone to tho). I have all of them, and pick up something different each time I watch one, so it's actually like having a dozen of them. They have been great fun to watch and have been very helpful. Your lessons really kick in and make sense when painting, though, much more so than sitting and listening.