Comparing Values In My Own Paintings

Since I am studying so much about values in art lately, I figured it was only fair to go back to my own past artworks and analyse how effectively I used values. I have known about the concept of values for quite some time, but as I have often learnt knowing theory and practically applying…

Since I am studying so much about values in art lately, I figured it was only fair to go back to my own past artworks and analyse how effectively I used values. I have known about the concept of values for quite some time, but as I have often learnt knowing theory and practically applying are very different things. This post is organised from my oldest artworks to my newest to see if any progression occurred overtime.

The Begonias (October 2016)

The oldest of my portfolio paintings is of these begonias. It’s easy to see that whilst I had concept of highlights and shadows the values all tended to be withing the mid-tones. I needed to take the shadows darker and the highlights lighter for better results.

The Strawberry (October 2016)

This painting was done after I began to seriously study Anna Mason’s techniques in watercolor. Assuming that you have a quality image to copy from, then your result is often very realistic and life-like.

Compared to the Begonias painting, I was able to take my colors and values much darker in the Strawberry painting. This shows some of my confidence in working with watercolors building. Many of the highlights are well preserved, though at times could be a hint lighter in values such as near the green leaves. Some of the darks on the strawberry itself could have been taken slightly darker in values as well to better match the shadow on the leaf.

Queen Victoria Succulent (March 2017)

The Queen Victoria Agave Succulent painting was somewhat of a success for me; it was received quite well by my audience and proved to be one of my first successful complex artworks.

Just like the Strawberry painting, I have taken my values much darker with this painting. I have successfully kept the highlights, most apparent on the whites tips of each leaf. Some of the darker depths of the leaves could have been bought further out towards the edges of the succulent, though I managed to keep the values relatively dark around the centre of the painting drawing the eye.

The Cosmos Flower (March 2017)

Without a doubt The Cosmos Flower is one of my favourite paintings. I am regularly drawn to it. Did you know I once wanted to call this painting “The Cosmos Is As Beautiful As A Flower”… Sometimes artistic license might go too far…

I was far more successful with the values in this painting compared to any other so far. By keeping the petals light in value, but still strong in hue, they have a wonderful vibrancy. This is especially notable when surrounded by the dark background. The darker valued shadows also helps enhance the shape and form of the flower. The one area of the painting that did not work ideally as the solid yellow center. I needed to keep more variance between lights and darks of the little yellow stems rather than paint them as a singular mass.

Superb Wren and Camellias (May 2017)

I was both happy and unhappy with this painting; it was quite a challenge to design and paint and whilst it turned out quite nice… there are those little bits that I keep wanting to go back and fix.

Tonal Sketch of Superb Wren and Camellias
Tonal Sketch of Superb Wren and Camellias

I had preplanned many of the values for this painting using a basic tonal sketch. This allowed me to have the more dynamic background and foliage with a checkerboard pattern in values (light on dark and dark on light).

Sadly most of this painting fell into mid-tone range for values. I could have certainly taken certain areas much darker, such as the background on the bottom right. This is particularly noticeable since the black breast of the wren stands out so drastically in the painting – it is by far the darkest thing through the entire piece. Many of the leaves could also have some more tonal variation to suggest the shape and form.

It was a wonderful artwork for learning from as it proved to be both a very challenging and rewarding piece, particularly since I began to rely more on my own imagination and less on photographic reference.

 

It appears that my use of values was constantly improving over time by continually learning from others who have mastered the craft, reading and then attempting to apply the theory myself. Whilst not all artworks turn out on paper (or canvas) as I envision them in my imagination, with continued effort they will eventually prove to be closer to that idealistic goal.

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