Value studies Day 20

Daily Art 11-7-17 value and contrast - tonal composition studies

It’s finally feeling more like autumn in Phoenix which means roasted veggie season is here! I set up a simple still life of a butternut squash, red onion, and sweet potato and lit it with a single light for today’s value study sketch. I used a square viewfinder to draw in the veggies, trying to keep it very still for more accuracy. In Daily Painting, Carol Marine talks about making sure her elbow is held tight against her side to keep the viewfinder in place and planting one foot so she doesn’t lose her original view. That definitely helped, but I’m also considering buying a double clamp flexible arm like she suggests to do that job so my arm doesn’t get tired.

I focused on four values (dark, mid, light, and highlights), looked for the terminator line, and paid attention to where the core shadow fell. My goal was to simplify the shapes I saw rather than get overly detailed, and as I worked I imagined what it might be like to paint this still life. I’m reading The Eye of the Painter by Andrew Loomis and he talks about an exercise (credited to American painter and instructor Charles Hawthorne) that sounds cool:

“Set up a still life, and without any preliminary drawing, start painting in areas and masses of tone and color; then in these masses develop the form. Drawing can be easily corrected in oil when it is dry. Where edges merge or are very close in value, keep them lost or soft. Where they stand out in contrast, make them so.”

He says this is a way to train the eye to see things in relationship to each other as opposed to getting caught up in the little details and lose sight of the big picture. Definitely something I want to be improving!

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