30 Days of Value Thumbnails – Day 20

mini painting color study evening in Carroll Joyner Park May 18 2019
Mini color study, “Early Evening in the Park”, 3×4 oil on paper

After a few days of overcast skies, I got extremely lucky when I went to a local park one evening to take some reference photos. The sky had amazing clouds full of subtle, early evening colors, and the light hit the sides of the trees, casting long shadows on the ground. It was exactly what I was hoping for! I was grateful that the timing worked and I could get out to appreciate all of the beauty.

While taking photos, I stopped at this grouping of trees to do my value thumbnail. With the sun low in the sky, I considered breaking the trees into two values: dark for the shadow side and mid dark for the sunlit sides. In the end I chose to keep them single value shapes so I could distinguish them from the more distant tree line.

As I tested out my colors on my little 3×4 paper, I had to remind myself that this was a study in value, color, and composition — not a portrait of a tree. I was definitely not striving for gumdrop trees! I did work on suggesting form in the trees by warming up the greens and lightening the values somewhat as they faced the low sun. But I was mindful not to introduce too much value contrast and destroy the overall form of the trees.

I used the swatch tester again, and am finding it super helpful for keeping my value areas where I want them.

Value thumbnail of simple shapes
Black and white value check of my color study