How To Watercolor Articles
The Value of Values Ė Start to Love Your Nines
Laurie Goldstein-Warren, TWSA, WW, NEWS, NWWS
Since I started painting with a limited palette of four colors, I have learned the importance of understanding and utilizing values in my work. At one time or another, we have all looked at a piece of artwork whether it be our own or another artistís and thought to ourselves, ďItís good, but there is something missing, some visual punch that isnít there.Ē Often, the painting is missing some part of the range of values, usually the 8ís and 9ís. These darkest values are vital in most paintings to give that visual punch, that exclamation point. They also to make the mid and light values sing. In my workshops, I have found that when it comes to these dark values, this is where many artists get a little shy with the paint. With practice, you can do it!
I have been painting watercolors for over 15 years and I still take the time several times a year to paint a value scale. I give them out to students at workshop from time to time. The practice of painting a value scale and looking at it reminds us, as artists how the different values of a color are all important to a piece of art. For those artists who do not use a limited transparent palette and sometimes find themselves in the predicament of making a muddy patch in an otherwise nice painting. Planting a few pieces of a true value 9 (black) within the muddy passage will bring out some of the colors within that passage and make it look less muddy. I learned this little tidbit from John Salminen at a wonderful abstract workshop years agoÖ and it worked well for me when I was using a vaster array of colors. Yes, I could make mud at times.
Composition, color, line, and so on are all important to making good art and if you are using or plan to start using a limited palette, knowing your value scale is vital. So give it a whirl and practice making value scales. With practice, you will begin to automatically put those darker values into your work with confidence.