Color Exercise

Exercise #2 – Color Value Application

Knowing the intrinsic value of color pigments is crucial to the success and enjoyment of painting.  This is true for the abstract artist and the representational artist.

Abstract Watercolor Sketch, study of pure pigment color values

Color values can change depending on the quality (professional or student grade) and the manufacturer of the paint.  For example, viridian can fall anywhere between 75% and 100% on the value scale.  It is beneficial to me to know the true value of the full strength pigments I use in my chosen palette.

color value studies using full strength pigments

Study A – Upper Left Image:

Color Value Scales

Based on the color value scale I created in Color Exercise #1, I chose one color from 0%, one from 50% and one from 100%.  I drew three boxes.  I applied each pigment full strength to the left side of each box.  I diluted each pigment to a 50% value and applied it to the front of each box.  I diluted each pigment to the lightest value possible while still exhibiting some tint of the color.  I applied each to the top of the boxes.

Study B – Upper Right Image:

Left box … from my color value scale I chose a color pigment that is 100% when full strength and applied it to the left side of the left box.  From my color value scale I chose a color pigment that is 50% when full strength and applied it to the left side of the second box.  I then applied that same 50% value color to the front of the left box.  I chose a color that is 25% when full strength and applied it to the front of the second box.  I chose a color that is 0% at full strength and applied it to the top of both boxes.

The box on the left, the one with the wider range of value, indicates a stronger, more direct light source than the box on the right.

Study C: Lower Left Image:

For a bit of a break from the tedious exercises, I play with mixing the pigments on the paper, wet in wet.  I chose more than one color that falls into the 100% value and applied them wet in wet to the left side of the boxes.  I did not mix the pigments on the palette; I applied them directly to the paper and allowed them to mix as they will.  I made sure to shake the water out of my brush before I applied the paint.  (Though I did the exercise in watercolor, they may be done in oil or acrylic.  I used the paints full strength except for Study A.  For ‘Study A’ I used white pigment to change the value of the paints rather than water.  For this exercise, I scumbled the full strength colors together on each side of the box to achieve a similar effect.)

Next I chose two or three colors that fall in the 50% value range and applied them the same way to the front of the boxes, mixing wet in wet or scumbling.

The last step was to choose colors that fall in the 0% range (basically lemon yellow and a slight touch of another yellow to give it variation) and to apply them wet in wet to the top of the boxes.

Study D – Lower Right Image:

I chose various values for my dark, medium and light shapes and observed how they appear to be of different value depending on the colors adjacent to them.  The blue is the exact same value though it is used as the dark side of the box (far right) and the medium value side of the box (far left).

Below is another example of how color applied full strength can be used as a mid-value in a strongly lit situation and a dark value in a subdued light situation.

I find this exercise beneficial, especially when it comes to quick sketches and plein air painting.  When time and materials are limited, a good knowledge of inherent value of  my pigments can make the difference between a smile on my face and a frown.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s