Monday, December 17, 2012

Design With Shape and Value

Value is important because our eye is more sensitive to it than colour.  Even though you might like colour.  Colour with the wrong value just doesn't cut it.  To Quote Aldro Hibbard "The most important rule in painting is VALUES".

Coupled with shapes you can design using values.  This is a more complex use for values and shapes.  It separates you from photographs.  Design is the conscious arrangement of shapes and values separate those shapes.  Shapes should be unique and distinct.  No two the same.  One dominant.  To achieve that one must be careful not to destroy the shapes by introducing too many values.  The image gets too busy and difficult for the eye to digest.  Simple is better.  Look at the classics.  This is part of your concept.

One way to do this is by studying the light dark pattern of an image.  In strong light this is the foundation of light and shade style of painting.  Separate the shapes into what is in the light and what is in the shade.  I do this in my sketch book in thumbnail form.  This 2 value study is called a Notan by some.  Here is an example from a painting.

From "Snow Shower"

You can see the key subject shapes and imagine the painting from just 2 values.  Dark dominates.  Note how the dark pattern is continuous to help preserve a minimum number of shapes for simplicity.  Now, If I show the image in 3 values.....

3 Value Snow Shower

You will see that the shapes are hung together by the darks.  The shapes are unique and distinct.  In the actual scene the values were full scale - many many, from dark to white.  If you just copy this you will produce a less powerful image, very busy.  So you can compress the actual number of values you use for your purposes (concept).

4 Value Snow Shower

As you continue to employ more values the shapes begin to break up.  Some call the compression of values used the BIG LOOK.  Adding colour to this is another complexity.  Most painters have difficulty putting down a colour with a specific value.  A key skill.  If the colours are of a variety of values, the shapes will break down and multiply.  Value gradations give you the same problem.  But temperature gradations can be done without destroying the shapes.  The key is to keep the colour values in the shape the same such that your design concept is not destroyed.

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