Task 9: Colour Values and Still Life

This task is broken down into 2 parts so that you can explore colour further before you take on your full colour still life art work.

If a painting is going to be successful, you must get your tones right, otherwise, it’s just going to be visual noise. The first step to doing this is to remove colour from the equation, to create a range of tone using only black. We did this in an earlier task and it is the main reason for beginning this series with tonal drawings, in black and white.

It’s now possible to create a value scale with every colour in your palette. Once you’ve painted a grey scale, it’s well worth the time painting a series of value scales with every colour you use frequently. Then if you’re struggling to get the right tone in a painting, you can easily consult your value scale.

You can use a range of media too and this will alter your tonal scale and how the colours work:

For watercolour, one way to make it lighter is to gradually add a little more water to the colour each time. You can also try using glazes, creating a series of values by painting a series of blocks, each glazed over once more than the previous block.

With oils or acrylics, the easiest way to lighten a colour is to add white. Remember from our previous discussion that this reduces the intensity of the colour, and therefore may not be ideal. Instead, think about lightening a colour by adding another colour of a lighter value. For example, to lighten a dark red, you can add a little yellow.

We have spoken about complementary colours in our previous lessons and with this exercise you can now explore more in depth your colour wheel. To lighten or darken a colour look at its position on the colour wheel–what is directly opposite? This is its complementary colour. We can use these to create value and it makes for a more interesting painting 🙂

Also consider the harmonious colours to get a range of value. To get a lighter tone of green, try adding yellow, not white. To get a darker tone green, try adding blue, not black. Harmonious, or analogous, colours are next to each other on the colour wheel.

Explore with many value scales, as that way, you can choose the right colour schemes for your art work. You need to understand exactly what colours do when mixed together and this takes practice and experimentation, but it’s time well spent.

 

Some painters start a painting with the highlights, some with the extreme darker tone. Doing this will make it easier than starting with mid-tones.

When your painting is ‘finished’, check whether you’ve still got your “darkest darks” and “lightest lights”. If you haven’t, the painting isn’t finished yet and you need to adjust the tones.

When painting, get into the habit of squinting your eyes at your subject, which reduces the level of detail you see and emphasises the light and dark areas.

Mid-tones are harder to judge. Compare them to the adjacent tones in the subject and to the lightest or darkest tone. If you struggle with this, a monochrome filter will help you to distinguish tones or value in a subject. Which is what we have been looking at in earlier tasks.

If you struggle with tone or value, doing your value study will be invaluable before painting with colour. Also, painting entirely in monochrome until you’re more comfortable with tone or value is recommended, so keep returning to earlier tasks to ensure you progress. Post your work for feedback and get some expert advice to keep moving forward 🙂

Here is a PDF resource to support you further:

Colour Scale and Colour Still LIfe

…and another quick reference to support this task 🙂

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Still Life Tasks: Perspective Drawing

Task 3 and 4 both involve still life drawing. Being able to draw in perspective is an important aspect of drawing to understand.

Leonardo Da Vinci said of perspective:

Perspective is to painting what the bridle is to the horse, the rudder to a ship.

Many artists though do make the point that perspective is merely a tool and it depends on what final effect you are going for. The Pop Art artist Roy Lichtenstein, who disliked certain rules said,

People think one-point and two-point perspective is how the world actually looks, but of course, it isn’t. It’s a convention.

Either way, it is something that should be practiced and understood 🙂

The meaning of perspective used in art involves creating an appearance of depth. This emphasis on distance stems from it being a difficult and impressive effect to achieve, especially upon paper that is completely flat. Here we are attempting to convey a sense of reality with space and depth on something which has none.

I will be the first to admit that learning and practicing linear perspective is a little bit like eating your veggies when you are a kid. You aren’t sure about them even though you know they are good for you but, in the end, you learn to love them. But what is really worth remembering about perspective drawing is that if you know the basics, you’ve got all the capabilities of a 3D drawing in your hands. That’s why understanding linear perspective is so important for artists, beginners included.

Linear perspective revolutionised the way artists perceived and incorporated spatial depth in their work. Established in solid, mathematical terms in the 15th century, linear perspective creates the illusion of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface.

To create effective linear perspective, artists establish a horizon line, a vanishing point on that line, and multiple orthogonal, or vanishing, lines. The horizon line is a horizontal line that runs across the paper or canvas to represent the viewer’s eye level and delineates the sky meeting the ground. The orthogonal lines, which distort objects by foreshortening them, create the optical illusion that objects grow smaller and closer together as they get farther away. These imaginary lines recede on the paper to meet at one point on the horizon called the vanishing point.

The difference between one-point perspective and two-point perspective is the number of vanishing points and where they are placed on the horizon line.

Here is a resource to support you with developing this technique:

Perspective

My Live Session which quickly demonstrates how to create both One & Two Point Perspectives 🙂

It might just help you with adjusting those funny angles in your artwork and allowing you to see some extra fundamentals in observational drawing 🙂

 

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 4: Still Life Using Graphite

Back to graphite we go…

So we are beginning to bring together all of the skills we have learned so far. We will soon be moving away from our tonal work so let’s try another Still Life drawing but this time with our graphite pencils.

Things we have covered so far:

  • Observation Skills- right side of the brain
  • Tonal Scale & Universal forms
  • Charcoal Techniques
  • Composition Considerations

Now we need graphite techniques to complete our skills in observational drawing.

You can use similar skills developed using charcoal for your graphite drawing, such as using a kneaded eraser to help with highlights. Do what you feel is right for you whilst applying the full tonal range to your drawing.

The same composition techniques we have discussed will apply and you should refer back to your universal forms to remind yourself of the different highlights and shadows. This time it should be easier as you will have the objects in front of you; if your light is good (natural light by a window) and your choice of objects is good (range of sizes, forms, textures) then you should be finding it easier to observe and create successful observational drawings.

Doing some different mark making exercises will also help you to decide on your style. It will also develop your understanding and control of using a graphite pencil in different ways. We have looked at adding tone to our shapes in a Sfumato sort of way so far, but there are many others that might suit you better and give a different character to your work.

Check out this resource to help you:

Mark Making

Have fun and remember to share your work for friendly feedback to support your progress – Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and a friendly art community – see you there 🙂

Here is the video link to my FB Live Mark Making Lesson

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART

Task 3 Part 2: Still Life Using Charcoal

The final part to this task is to use all you have learned with universal forms and observation to produce a final still life drawing using charcoal.

This time you can actually observe objects and position them near a bright window to enhance the tonal range (highlights and shadows).

Composition is an important aspect to a still life drawing so here is a resource to support you with this task. Read about the different composition techniques you can apply to your drawing. Techniques covered are:

  • Golden Section
  • Rule of Odds
  • Rule of Thirds
  • Using View Finders
  • Focal Points

Resource: Composition

 

See my Facebook Live Video here where I discuss some composition considerations to improve your still life artwork 🙂

Here is my charcoal still life from the live session above…few wonky angles but you get the idea with using a range of tone to create focal points, and also can see the rule of odds! It is worth planning your still life work and using some of the techniques mentioned to maximise the final effect of your work.

Join our Facebook Group for LIVE lessons and friendly art community – post your own artwork for friendly feedback and discussions! see you there 🙂

Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART