well if youre from the midatlantic you know that today makes about the third week of drizzle, in and out clouds, and generally crappy plein air painting weather! so after getting depressed, muttering under my breath, cleaning brushes, and making a cool wet canvas carrier for the inside of my SUV, i painted. what did i paint? value studies of one of my fave painters colin page, from maine. i turned some of his images into black and white and then painted them. the two boats and truck are from his and i did one of my key west paintings (bottom right)to see if i could improve the value patterns.
i suggest doing this with one of your favorite painters to see how they form their value patterns. turn a painting you like into black and white on your computer and copy it. its the 21st version of standing in a museum and copying a painting from one of the old masters.
i found from doing several of colins' that he mostly uses a very "connected" pattern. meaning that most of his large patterns are mid tones and they are pretty much connected into large masses. then there are the lights sprinkled around and maybe a few darks. he gets the variety from subtle color changes and not from lots of value changes in the masses. the rule of thumb is make something 2/3 either light, dark, or medium and split the other third between the other two unused values. learning from colins painting was good because it helps me understand why i like his painting style and to bring that very desirable quality to my work. it will do it to yours too, if you spend some of these rainy days playing with black and white paint and limiting the number of values you use. then when the sun comes out you'll be ready for color paintings with a very cohesive/graphic look to them. better than seeing another rainy day and crying in my coffee or cutting my ear off LOL