Once or twice a week I will post a lesson in Color as Value.  I encourage you to take the time to create your own color charts.  I believe you will learn as much from your less-than-perfect charts as you will the perfect charts.  To be honest, I have made over a hundred different color charts and not one has been perfect.  Rather than get stuck by frustration of imperfection I encourage you to move on.  Learn the lesson and keep going.  The most important thing is for you to apply what you learn from the exercises.


Primary and Secondary Colors

This first color wheel is painted with oil paint.  I want to show the color full strength out of the tube without dilution that would alter the color/value of the pigment.  I believe oil, acrylic or gouache are suited for this task.

I chose colors that were neither on the cool side nor the warm side of each hue.

Yellow: Cadmium Yellow Light Hue (Couleurs a l’Huile)

Orange: Cadmium Orange (Winsor & Newton)

Red: Grumbacher Red (Grumbacher)

Purple: Ultramarine Violet (Winsor & Newton)

Blue: Cobalt Blue (Grumbacher) Winsor & Newton Cobalt is lighter in value.

Green: Permanent Green Light (Winsor & Newton)

Use the paints you already have on hand.

After painting the wheel (and letting it dry) I scanned it and transformed the color into grayscale to illustrate the intrinsic value of each hue.  My color wheel is about 7 inches in diameter.  In the next lesson you will be making a value scale overlay for this color wheel so make sure that you make it large enough.  I suggest a minimum of 7″ diameter, maximum of 10″ diameter.  Use a protractor to make sure that each section is exactly one/sixth of the circle (60 degrees).  If you are not exact, the grayscale overlay wheel may not work as well.

The objective is to see quite clearly that no matter what, yellow will never be as dark in value as any of the other colors.  If any other color is mixed with a yellow, the yellow will darken in value.  The yellow will also lose the characteristics of being yellow.  Purple has the ability to be as dark as a black as well as being as light as a yellow when diluted.  If using watercolor, the character of the purple will remain strong even when diluted with water.  Notice, too, that the value of red and the value of green is quite close.  In oil, acrylic or gouache, the characteristics of the pigment will change significantly when white is added.  I will discuss that more in future lessons.

Application:  Chose an object or a scene and simplify it into three values: light, medium and dark.  Using pure, undiluted pigments, render the object thinking only of value.  Use yellow for your light value, orange and green for your mid value, red, purple and blue for your dark value.  Photograph or scan your painting and transform the mode to grayscale.

I have posted a few examples and will add more as time goes by. Feel free to send me your images if you wish them to be considered for posting on the page of examples for Lesson One.