|Mini color study, “No Outlet”, 3×4 oil on paper|
I sketched the value thumbnail for this mini study outdoors, with the mid-morning sun glaring over my right shoulder. It lit up the trees and ground on the left so fiercely that I wanted to capture that in this color study. I made a few adjustments to my typical approach: picked a larger brush, keyed my colors lighter, and tested each color I mixed against a printout of 6 main values (black for accents, dark, mid dark, mid light, light, and white for highlights).
I didn’t think too much about how interesting the composition of the scene I selected would be — I just stopped the car at the end of a dead end road, where I could see some trees going into the distance and a road to provide some angles. I realized later that it’s pretty darn boring, but wanted to keep going as a color mixing exercise anyway.
My favorite area is the distant tree shape that is cooler green in the shadows and warmer green in the sunlit areas, but both colors lighter and duller to push them into the distance. The two greens are the same value, but the contrast in temperature helps suggest the form in a way that I love.
|I made this 8 1/2 x 11 template based on Marla Baggetta’s video tip — the actual printout is much darker than the digital file looks!|
The value scale printout was really cool to use. I’ve experimented with various ways to determine the values of the colors I’m mixing, but this one is my favorite so far. I saw it being used in a video by artist Marla Baggetta, where she demos how to match a pastel color to a reference image. I made my own scale based on the values from my printer and tested each color on it as I mixed. The key for me was how there’s a nice big area to test the colors, and when the sheet is full I can just print a new one. I’ll be curious to see how it works for more transparent oil paint mixes, and whether I need to adjust the template to accommodate variations in opacity. I think it would also be useful to make a version with more values, so I could choose 4 that aren’t just evenly stepped down the scale.
|Value thumbnail of simple shapes (messy pencil lines that I couldn’t erase in this one)|
|Black and white value check of my color study|