30 Days of Value Thumbnails – Day 21

mini painting color study clouds over NC Museum of Art May 19 2019
Mini color study, “Sky Art at the Museum”, 3×4 oil on paper

A few months after moving to North Carolina, I was finally feeling just settled enough to do some exploring, and one of the first places on my list was the North Carolina Museum of Art. In addition to a great collection of paintings, the museum is located on a huge piece of land with outdoor sculptures and walking paths. I love how they’ve blended the experience of fine art with nature and created a very holistic experience. It’s hard not to feel uplifted and more centered after a visit there.

During this first visit, the weather was too warm to be walking outdoors for very long, but I did get to see some nice fluffy clouds and great vistas. For this value thumbnail I wanted to create a lighter, more airy sky, consistent with what I felt when I was actually there. The photo I took makes the clouds look darker and heavier than I remember them, and the land is overly dark as well.

I simplified my clouds and used colors to create a peaceful, dreamy quality…with no sense of urgency, as if you have all the time in the world to watch the clouds pass by and there’s nowhere you’d rather be. To convey the warmth of the day, the colors of the trees and grasses have a warm, somewhat hazy quality. I feel like I could do an infinite number of studies just on clouds, playing with the color of the light and shadows to express different ideas.

A couple of things I’d do differently next time: make the distant trees a little lighter so they separate from the closer mass of trees and are the same value as the grass area, and connect the sky to the land more by bringing color from one into the other.

Reference photo from the North Carolina Museum of Art
Value thumbnail of simple shapes

I handled the values in this study a bit differently from how I normally do it by keeping the light and mid light close together on the scale, and the mid dark and dark close together. I like how this gave me more room to play in the sky while keeping the land areas simpler by lowering the contrast there. I’d like to explore this style of value relationships more and remember that the values don’t have to step evenly up the scale.

Black and white value check of my study