Sunday, July 28, 2013

Artist Tip #18 - Design Guidelines: Value Patterns, Part 2

Our last Artist Tip #17 discussed the importance of value patterns to painting design, and suggested doing one or several value sketches to plan the value pattern of our painting.  We introduced six "standard" landscape value patterns, where the foreground, mid-ground, and background each take on one of the three value ranges (light, mid, or dark).  In this tip, we'll introduce several more "standard" value patterns for your consideration.

These four very useful standard value patterns I'll call principal value patterns:

  1. a large dark shape on a mid-value field
  2. a small light shape on a large dark shape on a mid-value field
  3. a large light shape on a mid-value field
  4. a small dark shape on a large light shape on a mid-value field

These are illustrated in the following figure:

The painting Off Port Clyde is an example of principal value pattern 2. The white details next to the dark hull make a striking value statement:

The painting Cotswolds Farmhouse is an example of principal value pattern 3 - the light farmhouse shape contrasts well with the mid-value of the background:

Several other value patterns you may want to consider are light, dark, and mid-value shapes placed adjacent or overlapped throughout the painting, or all 3 values blended across the painting using gradation.

These "standard" value patterns have been presented to help you get started in planning the value patterns of your paintings.  But realize that you can adopt any value pattern that looks good to you - just be sure to do your value planning before you start painting, using small value sketches!  These principles apply to all paintings, regardless of subject.  Still lifes, portraits, and abstracts require the same value planning as landscapes to be successful.  Value is always king!  In the portrait below, Biker, the light value of the beard and the dark background do much more to make this a successful painting than do the colors that are used.

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