Study in composing values #4

As my final study in the lesson I’ve been following on composing values, I wanted to choose a reference photo in the same vein (yellow-orange flower) but different style of composition. In the photo I selected, I really liked the background. But in my painted study, I felt like it was too busy and used it as an opportunity to see what it’s like to paint over an area with a whole new color.

composing values study of sunflower Jan-31-2019
Final study with simplified background

I was surprised by how simple it was to change the background! Although it helped that I was changing it to a cool dark grey…replacing it with a more intense color would have likely been rough. I’m not totally sold on the simplified version, but I think it at least separates the flower and leaves from the background area. The thing I don’t like about it is that it feels like dead space back there. It may have helped to put in some temperature changes, leaving it basically the same value.

It feels very counter-intuitive because I tend to prefer simple over busy, but my definite favorite from this set of four studies was the one with the cluster of packed-in sunflowers. Sometimes having my expectations upended is a very delightful thing.

composing values study of sunflower Jan-31-2019
Before simplifying the background
composing values study of sunflower Jan-30-2019 block-in
Initial block-in
composing values study of sunflower Jan-31-2019 greyscale side by side
Value check: the biggest difference I see is in the background, where I averaged it into a single value

This lesson has been awesome for walking me through the process of doing a painting from start to finish. I get such a kick out of seeing it go from the initial block-in (when I just have to trust the process and believe it will get better) to the completed study. It’s a great next step after my 100 Starts project because it builds upon the same approach of defining the shadow family and the light family.

The biggest thing I could work on with this process is to stop overthinking and overworking these studies. I’d get a lot more experience in by doing more of them, more quickly. I’d also probably enjoy the experience more by lightening up about it and not trying to be so exact!

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