Value studies Day 6

Daily Art 10-24-17 value and contrast - tonal composition studies

While exploring value studies, I came across the technique of making a Notan as a way to break an image down into just two values. To get more familiar with this concept, I watched a few videos by artists that approach it in a slightly different way.

The first one was from Mitchell Albala, who uses Notan to identify shape and pattern, not necessarily value. Value plays a role, but so does color. He’s got some interesting examples in the video that help explain it more. This is what I was keeping in my mind as I did the third sketch (lower right).

Next I watched an In the Studio Art Instruction video with Dianne Mize with a slightly different approach. She breaks the image down into “what’s in shadow, what’s not in shadow” and I really like that simplicity. But with my reference photo I ran into trouble because the mountains in the distance didn’t appear to be in shadow, but were clearly darker than the sky. So I got stuck on how to totally resolve that, although the tops of the mountains appeared a little bit darker so I shaded that in. My mind couldn’t quite separate what was in shadow with what was just a darker color.

I also used Dianne’s approach on today’s first sketch (upper left). For that one, I used a felt-tip marker and didn’t make a pencil sketch first. It pretty much falls apart, but I like pattern the strokes make and I think it would be much better if I’d started with a pencil sketch and used this hatching technique to fill in dark areas. Or, if I want to go straight in with the black ink, try smaller thumbnails and a brush tip marker like she suggests in this video.

After doing a bit of research on the Notan, it’s looking to be a great option for composing a painting, but may not be the best approach for identifying the different values present in an image. My biggest goal right now is to establish the foundational skill of getting the value right, and then I’ll move on to the composition design stage. Learn to crawl before walking and all that.

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