Valuable Studies in Value

Dan Schultz

If you’ve been painting long, you’ve probably come to realize the importance of value relationships. And it’s likely due in part to at least one instructor’s endless reminders to SQUINT!
Value (light/dark contrast) is a critical part of any successful representational painting or drawing. After design and drawing accuracy, it’s the next most important factor. No matter how strong in design, how impeccable in drawing accuracy, how refined in color or how varied in edge work, without proper value relationships, a painting will be lacking.

A monochromatic medium such as graphite or charcoal is, of course, a great way to focus on value. But painters will also benefit from painting with just black and white. The practice will improve value recognition and (especially helpful for beginners) provide experience with paint mixing and brush handling.

So head outdoors or into the studio armed with your tubes of black and white. And remember, the study of value is a valuable study. Also, when you say that to your friends you’ll sound really clever!

(By the way, for those of you who didn’t get the “squint” reference, squinting your eyes makes it easier to compare value relationships.)

The pictured paintings are two of my value studies created with Titanium White and Ivory Black.

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