Comparing Values In Paintings – The Contemporary

The use of values in your artworks are very important; they can set the mood and draw the eye to a specific focal point. Apparently over time there has been less and less emphasis on the importance of values, with many modern artists not utilizing values to their full ability.

This post will look at…

The use of values in your artworks are very important; they can set the mood and draw the eye to a specific focal point. Apparently over time there has been less and less emphasis on the importance of values, with many modern artists not utilizing values to their full ability.

This post will look at how some of the renowned modern artists use values within their paintings.

Susan Harrison-Tustain’s Adèlaide d’Orleans

Susan’s artistic work are often Impressionistic in style, reflecting a “naturalistic realism”. She paints in both oil and watercolor.

Susan features strong value contrasts in her paintings to help capture the viewers attentions and guide them to focal points. Her sense and use of tonal value is excellent; even in black and white the viewer is able to clearly define the subject of the painting. The use of color in her paintings is quite important;  certain areas such as the yellow centers of the flowers appear more apparent in the colored version, whilst in the grey scale version the yellow centers appear of less importance.

Ken Done (2016)

Ken Done (1940 – current) art moves in a completely different direction to Susan Harrison-Tutsain’s. His work is described as “the mot original style to come out of Australia”. He has an extensive art career with numerous awards and is nationally recognised.

In Ken Done’s painting A Pale Violet, published in 2016, his use of values are quite limited. He has extensively used a mid-value throughout almost the entire painting, with the exception of the flower both meant to be near black and near white in color. In the grey scale version of the painting the subject seems to almost disappear into the surrounding values, a can be seen by the green leaves. The only reason the woman on the vase does not disappear into her background is the slightly lighter outline.

Josh Clare’s Backlit (2016)

Josh Clare’s (1982-current) artwork Backlit features a solid understanding of values. A viewer can still clearly identify the subject when the painting is converted to grey scale. However the color in the painting gives a much more dynamic and accurate impression: Josh Clare implies the distance of the mountain through the use of blues, whilst the back lit leaves are given importance through the use of light yellow.

Michael James Smith’s The River Wharfe (2017)

No, that is not a photograph. Michael James Smith (1976-current) is an oil painter with a strong focus on realism. His works are of such high detail that they appear almost photographic in both the colored and grey scaled versions. To achieve such realism he needs to ensure that his values are absolutely perfect, often done through very careful color matching.

Red Tailed Black Cockatoo and Tree Waratah by Heidi Willis (2017)

Heidi Willis is an amazing self-taught watercolor artist whose work feature Australian native and exotic plants, flowers, fruits and bird-life. She paints in a highly realistic manner that does not simplify the environment or the subject, rather portraying them in a very naturalistic environment.

Since her paintings are in such a realistic nature, its important for her values to be accurate. When her paintings are converted to grey scale, its very easy for the viewer to determine the subject of the painting. Its even easy to see many of the details.

Anh Do

Ahn Do is a philanthropist in his pursuit of writing, comedy and art. He hosted a successful television show called “Anh’s Brush With Fame”. He has won numerous art awards and in 2014 was even a finalist for the Archibald Prize.

Anh Do’s paintings an excellent use of values to portray their subjects. In the colored version, in some cases the reflected shadow may almost appear out of place, however the grey scale clearly shows how the color is not as relevant as the value. The nose, left cheek and eyebrow ridge has been left purposely of much lighter value to capture the viewer’s interest, contrasted by the darker surrounding values.

 

In our previous post, Comparing Values In Paintings – The Classics, it was proposed that modern artists don’t have the same knowledge and use of values as many of the classic masters. As these two posts explored, many artists do use values to quite a wide and successful degree. However many more art styles have since developed that don’t necessarily use values to portray their message – such as the abstract paintings by Ken Done. One thing is for certain; if you want your artwork to be in any form realistic, you need a solid understanding and command of values.

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