30 Days of Value Thumbnails – Day 3

mini painting color study of Zion National Park May 1 2019
Mini color study, 3×4 oil on paper

Today’s thumbnail and mini painting are based on a photo from our trip to Zion National Park. It was full of beautiful fall color so that’s the feeling I wanted to capture with my palette. In my value thumbnail, I decided to use the little shrubby plants in the large foreground to help lead the eye toward the focal area — the spot of bright color in the distance at the end of the path. They’re joined together and form a zig zag from the lower right up and over toward this bright spot.

Reference photo
30 days of value thumbnails number 3 Apr 30 2019
Value thumbnail of simple shapes with some directional notes to lead the eye
mini painting color study of Zion National Park - black and white May 1 2019
My mini painting study converted to black and white to check values

I did a couple of things to help nudge myself away from making the lights too dark:

  • moved the 3×4 cut pieces of canvas paper from the brown masonite panel I’ve been using for the last several months to a white foam board
  • mixed the dark values then immediately mixed the lightest value (the sky) to set the working range I was shooting for
  • when I thought I was finished, held up a piece of red acetate to my study which revealed that the foreground area was too dark and needed to be lightened

These steps seem to have helped quite a bit — when I did the black and white conversion test in Photoshop I was happy with what.

I’m also using these mini paintings as an opportunity to quickly try out a bunch of different underpainting colors to see how they influence the overall mood. Today’s was toned with transparent earth red.

mini painting color study setup with different toned paper options
3×4 pieces of canvas paper toned with a variety of colors in preparation of the mini studies