Monday, October 4, 2010

More on Squinting, Shapes and Values

A painter has few real elements to work with.  Shapes and Values are two of the most important.  When a viewer enters a gallery they are first attracted to value contrast between interesting shapes.  From a distance that is what is seen.  The eye works that way.  Rods far outnumber cones so one is most sensitive to value contrast.  A few interesting different sized shapes with value contrast is what entices a viewer to come closer for a look.  No detail is seen from across the room.  It is interesting that the first thing that usually goes wrong in a painting is the value of the shapes.  If there are too many shapes the image becomes a jumble of similar sized shapes and the interest fades.

Squinting is the key to finding the value differences between a few interesting shapes.  This means that while squinting at the shapes one is able to judge the relative values between shapes.  I find a key shape and then judge the others relative to that.  It may be the darkest dark that is my key.  However, the dark seen by squinting will most likely not be the dark that is actually there.  To judge that you have to open your eyes.  Really, not double speak.  It takes discipline.  So, if you have 3 to 5 shapes then you automatically can conserve values - you only need 3 to 5 values.  You can reserve the lightest and darkest for hi-lites and accents.  You have to do this from the real subject, not your painting - eyes open for that.  Here is a scene that one might consider for a composition.  Crop and arrange for interest.

Scotsdale Pond, October 2010

Some squinting considerations;

  • Squint for relative value between shapes - not colour - open eyes for that.
  • Open eyes for real values.
  • Squint to determine how many values are needed.  Open eyes will tell you there are more values, but they are not needed.  Park that urge.
  • Squint to see the value of reflected lights.  In shadows these are often about the same value as the shadow.  Perhaps a different colour or colour temperature.
  • Avoid squinting at your canvas when painting.  Squint at the subject.  Practice to keep this straight.
  • Practice squinting at the subject being considered for a composition.  Use squinting to prepare a thumbnail.
  • Squint at the subject, then put down the stroke of paint with open eyes.  In addition to simplifying and conserving values, this will help you eliminate unnecessary copied detail.  Later in the painting you can use more interesting and creative approaches to infer detail.
  • Squint to determine the relative values in your subject, but restrain or emphasize them to serve your painting concept.
  • When something isn't working, check your painting against the squinted pattern of relative values.  See your thumbnail.
  • Look for dark accents when squinting.  They are often very warm and more interesting than hi-lites.
  • Since we have only 9 values to work with we have to simplify and not attempt to copy nature.
  • We can create a light effect by using value relationships.
  • You can conserve values by using colour for modelling shape as opposed to value change (as in drawing).
  • The restriction of values in the major areas will create a more powerful painting.
  • Practice squinting and never doubt what you see.

No comments:

Post a Comment