As I continue to explore the idea of value studies, I’m thinking more about the point of doing them in the first place. Ultimately I want to be able to accurately render values, whether I’m working from life or a reference photo, from color or black and white. Once I have a good handle on that, I want to learn more about designing good compositions, using value studies as a tool for checking out a composition before drawing out the final piece.
Since so many people recommend drawing from life to get better at values, I finally took the time to set up a little still life with a simple object. I used a black sheet as a backdrop and aimed a single light at the subject. And today instead of doing three 10-minute sketches, I just set the timer for 30 minutes and started sketching.
I also brought out my greyscale & value finder. But I was stumped on how to “read” it against the subject with that spotlight — I either got glare when holding it too close, or it was completely in shadow if I was further away. So that had me a little frustrated.
A more helpful tool today was two little viewfinder squares that I held up to different areas of the subject to compare values. This was enlightening because it isolated particular values and allowed me to see them as they were, without being influenced by what was next to them. I didn’t use it until the fourth sketch, and I think it made that one a stronger study. However, the openings were too large so I really want to make a tool closer to this hole-punched paint chip.
Even though I’m feeling a little stuck — or more accurately, like I’m wandering through this topic without a clear path and vision — I am enjoying the way that with just a small adjustment to technique or what I decide to call a dark, mid, or light value, there’s a different result.