The effective use of values can create the composition. It can help you pull the viewer to your center of interest, and make sure that the viewer sees what is important to you.
I am not necessarily religious about doing a values study before I paint. Sometimes I can see the values in the image and have an idea before I start painting. The act of drawing can help me understand and work out the issues in my painting related to values. Values studies are particularly helpful to seeing how to connect the portrait to the background, and what edges to loose in the process.
In Skulls, I had been trying to focus on contrast and making sure my darks are really dark. I keep my camera with me at all times, constantly looking for images that might make good paintings. I saw this individual watching the musicians playing at a Sunday farmers’ market (bright sunny days typically give me images with good shadows) and only after reviewing the image in the studio did I notice the skulls on his jacket. I particularly liked how I could compose the painting drawing the viewer’s attention around the man’s crossed arms. I also wanted to connect him to the background, which I did usingIndanthrone Bluein his hat and the background. Also, I like to use complementary colors in my paintings, and loved being able to use purples and Quinacridone Gold of his wrist. I paint vertically because I want to see my entire painting while I am working. When I paint flat, the image is distorted. Also, with my loose style of painting, I get these wonderful drips by painting vertically.
Jewelry Seller Study was a study for a more finished painting, with an emphasis on values. It turned out to be better than the finished painting. This painting was all about the strong shadow across the woman’s face, connecting to the shadow down her neck and jacket. The study also helped me see how to connect her to the background, enhancing the composition.