One Painting A Day
Value refers to the relative lightness or darkness of a color. In representational painting, the most fundamental application of value is to give a two-dimensional shape a volumetric form. This is achieved when a color moves from dark to light in gradual shifts within the shape. Value also refers to light and how it informs the subject in a painting. For this painting, I wanted to explore these concerns with one object and a limited palette. I chose to look at a crumpled piece of notebook paper with the light source behind it in order to show very subtle shifts in value and a dramatic cast shadow.
A white still life is a great subject for exploring value. Choose one to three objects that are white or at least are neutral in color. Light your subject with a direct source, like a lamp, so that you can see the shifts in value from light to dark on the objects, as well as on the cast shadows.
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If you choose to use a limited palette, try to experiment with color rather than black paint to darken the colors. For my painting, I used only blue, sepia, and white. You can also choose two complementary colors like blue and orange to create a neutral darker color to mix with the white. You don’t have to necessarily blend all the values to create volume, but you do need to have a full range of value in order to give the objects a volumetric form.