Understanding value – An exercise
Typical of the amateur painter is the lack of contrast in the works. Maybe it’s due to lack of drawing, value drawing (with pencil) is a good way to get a feel for the differences between dark and light. Drawing is the basis for all image creation, it is good to practice. Differences in value are an important part of the experience of a painting. Coloring is all very well, but without contrast a painting often becomes flat and dull.
Here is a small simple example of a watercolor motif that can train the feeling for value. It is also a good exercise in wet on wet technique. The painting is made on Whatman 280 gr paper with largely only ivory black.
Choose some white objects, I chose a coffee cup with saucer and a small bowl. Place them on a white surface. Choose a light source that provides clear shadows, I used a regular desk lamp.
Draw the motif. Paint a background, be careful with the lines in the cup and the bowl, you create these using the background. If you paint extremely generously, the paint creates beautiful patterns. Only black is used.
Wet the entire surface on which the objects stand with clean water, there should be plenty of water. Let it rest for a while and then paint (before it has started to dry) the shadows wet on wet. Avoid working with this surface for too long, it is better to leave inaccuracies than to try to correct them and destroy everything.
Now let’s get to the cup and the bowl. The best way is to start from the back and let the outline of a front object be created when you paint what is behind. Therefore, start with the back bowl. Soak the entire outside of the bowl, leaving the inside of the bowl dry. Paint the values wet on wet. still only black color is used.
Continue with the coffee cup and the dish separately. The technique is all the time: Soak a surface with water, paint wet on wet when it is moderately moist. Let it dry completely and then continue with the next surface.
I chose to paint an apple with COLOR! as a final step. This adds nothing to the exercise but perhaps allows you to put up with looking at it.