October 27, 2011

Checking values in acrylic paintings

I’ve been working on a harbor painting for a while now, on and off. It started as a realistic painting, and then it turned into a more contemporary one. Kind of in the middle of that transition I decided I would portray the scene half in the sun, and half in the shade. That’s when I started having value problems

Picture 1 with color
I was using warmer colors in the sunny areas, and cooler ones in the shade, but I soon realized that some warm hues have a darker value than cool ones, and focusing on temperature instead of value can really spoil all you are trying to do.
Every painter knows the squinting technique to see values, but squinting has its limitations. What helps me a lot is using the “desaturation tool". Here is how it works: I take a digital photo of the artwork, I download it into my computer, and I desaturate it using Photoshop (many other image editing software can do it too). Then I really see values.

Picture 1 desaturated
What I saw in my desaturated painting was a lot of mid-tone values. It did not have the sun vs. shade look that I was trying to achieve.
I took notes of needed corrections, and went back to the easel.
After few changes, I took another photo, and desaturated again. I’ll work more on it, but this is where I am now, you can see it below.

It does not seem like a lot of difference, but I did lighten quite a few areas.

What do you think, am I going on the right direction?
Do you know/use a different technique to check values?

Thanks for visiting,

October 13, 2011

French waitress

"French waitress"
7" x 8.5"  watercolor on paper

This is my humble contribution to the "A day not wasted" site painting challenge. 
I'm still on my watercolor journey, and this is my first person painted with watercolors. Thanks Lee for great monthly challenges, you always get me try something new, which leads to some learning experience. :)
To see the reference photo and other entries click here.