Front yard value study

plein air study in front yard Jun 20 2019
Black and white oil study painted outdoors

I went outside this morning to do a value study of the magnolia bush in our front yard. This bush is probably my favorite plant out front because this time of year it bursts into white blossoms and smells amazing.

My scene for this study

When I positioned myself in the shade of the house, I was able to frame the subject with a bit of the driveway and yard next door. I liked the way there was a dappled shadow going across that area. After sketching it out, I assigned the different shadow and light shapes values based on the 10-step value scale. For blocking in the major shapes, I used just a few values, and added more detail and form with the remaining values.

Seeing all of those values on my palette helped me remember to include the darkest and lightest values, and give structure to the scene by comparing what was darker and lighter relative to each other. It’s a lot to keep in my head though! I had jotted value notes in my sketchbook for reference but I’m hoping that with some practice it becomes more automatic.

value study in front yard Jun 20 2019

The cast shadow on the driveway should be a little lighter to distinguish it from the grass next to it, and the part of the bush being struck by direct light could use some shadows to add more depth. But overall I’m pretty happy with how this one turned out. While painting it, I was frustrated by bug bites which made me feel rushed. Next time I need to remember to actually use the bug spray I pack with me every time I go out!