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The Essential Three Value Temperature and Color

Stefan Baumann

Blog #6 of 17

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October 7th, 2019 - 12:06 PM

The Essential Three Value Temperature and Color

The days are getting longer and warmer at The Grand View Ranch and we are making plans for the upcoming May painting workshop on May 18-19- 20, 2018. This workshop is always an exciting event and this year we hope that the weather co-operates so that we can include our campfire chat as part of the workshop. We plan on gathering around the fire pit to talk about topics that come up such as how to use value, temperature, and color in your paintings when painting outdoors at the workshop. At my workshops and when I coach, questions that are most frequently asked are about how to use value, temperature, and color in paintings.



Observation is the key

Many artists believe that value is the most important element. However, students who attend my workshops and those students that I coach online would disagree. I teach
that temperature is even more important than value, and a conversation about
values could not be made without including temperature and color as part of the
conversation. When you begin a painting, it is essential to paint what you see. Observation is the key to understanding the principles of painting along with temperature, value, and color. It is interesting that what we see is sometimes different from what is there. Understanding how to paint requires understanding of how our brain works.
Seeing value accurately can be helped by squinting your eyes to compare the
dark and the light. Squinting is a helpful practice when we want to help our brain
interpret the varying values that we are observing.

Knowledge of light and shadow

Often when we see a shadow, our brain assumes that it is dark and cold. But
when that shadow is cast on a white plane, it’s easy to think that the shadow is
lighter than it appears. When applying color, the artist is often lost in their brain’s
visual impression rather than trusting their knowledge of light and shadow. It has
been my experience that even artists who have painted for years feel challenged
if they try to paint an egg on a white plate with a white background. Many artists
struggle as they try to capture a dark value when creating a form, and they often
paint what they think they see and not what is actually there.


Get to the next level

However, to understand how to use values when painting requires understanding
the interaction of value with temperature and color. Every color has a dark and a
light hue. Even yellow can be broken down into value degrees. Most beginning
painters start with a color and add white to lighten the value, and, at times, add
black to darken a value. This works for the novice but for a painting get to the
next level, adding a color that is a lighter value instead of using white will produce
a better effect. For example, when Cad Yellow Light paint is added to the Cad
Yellow Dark paint, the paint mixed with this combination will retain the yellow
intensity and the vibrant hue even though a lighter hue is added. The same
would apply when making Cad Yellow Dark by adding the complementary color of dark purple to the Cad Yellow Light instead of using black. This will darken the
yellow and it will keep the color-saturated with hue.


I invite you to attend my workshop on May 18-19- 20, 2018. Or, you might want
find out more about being coached on the phone with me where our conversation
about value and creating light in your paintings will be just one of the many topics
that we can discuss. Until next week, we will keep the Campfire burning, and
look forward to your participation in upcoming events at The Grand View Ranch.

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