Thursday, May 22, 2014

The middle value layer

As we the end of the term we will spend some time working on figures and portraiture. Seeing in layers is an essential part of both. We've focused in the past on the role the darks and the lights play. Now let's try isolating the mid-value shapes to see how much of the content they carry.

How important are the middle values, painting by painting? 
To answer this question, it seems like a good idea to practice seeing the middle values as an isolated layer, apart from the influence of the lights and the darks. Just as we sometimes paint the darks alone, to see how much of the story they tell, the same approach may reveal the role the mid-tones play in a given image.
Here are a couple of images that seem to rely on the middle values for essential information. Try quick rendering of only the mid-value shapes. Keep it simple. Lift your brush from the page as little as possible. Make the darks middle value, too. The ares that are closer to white than to middle  should be left white.
If the layer goes on the paper good and wet, you will have time to vary the color of the wash without creating overlap lines. The fewer individual shapes you use, the easier it should be to get an instant "read" of the content.
This one is mostly middle-value
Squint! Round the darks down to mid-value and the lights down to white.
Keep it fluid! Colors added to the wash will run together somewhat, but those few darks will pull it together later.

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