Bridging Worlds through Creativity

Values Appreciated

Clouds: Number 2 of 4. Well, I’m not convinced this is really about clouds, but, I learned a lot with this piece. I think I was so intrigued by the landscape and lighting, that the clouds and sky took a back seat. I did more planning this time, including sketching several layouts before selecting one that really called me. Next I used a ballpoint pen to create three different value sketches. I broke it down to four values, plus very bright and very dark value. When I looked at the value sketches, they all looked pretty much the same ~ I figured that might be a good sign.

I next selected a limited palette, 2-3 pastels for each of the four midrange values I had defined earlier. That was a smart start for me, because it gave me the opportunity to really think about those color and value choices before I started blocking in the shapes.

Having some of the value-color-hue analysis completed before I put pastel to paper let me think less, and get into a flow of painting, feeling more secure after the preplanning. And, I have to say I really enjoyed painting this piece. When I had it nearly completed, I took a photo and thought to myself that I just needed to put on some finishing touches. The next day, unexpectedly, a fellow painter in my watercolor class, Clara, was curious what I’d been working on with pastels. I showed her this.


This is what I showed Clara.

I love and hate what happens when I photograph my work. The cropped image really helps me quickly see what’s working and what’s not. But the colors change, and the subtlety of what I can see on paper disappears. What I benefitted far more from was my friend’s feedback, which was totally different from what I was seeing.

First, let’s just say it: it’s extremely helpful (not to mention encouraging) to get positive feedback. I totally appreciated her helpful words, noticing what was working, and what she was drawn to. I don’t know about you, but I tend to be uber-critical of my own artwork, focusing on minuscule details that bug me. For example, some of the trees initially seemed to be leaning into each other rather than reaching toward the sky. I could also not overlook the fact that the clouds were unconvincing.

Anyway, Clara’s friendly and encouraging feedback guided the next steps, and I finally called it done. I spent more time on this painting than the assignment called for, yet, the time was well worth it. Could I do more? Probably. Improve the clouds and sky? Yes. More gracefully transition between clouds and trees? Sure.

Instead, I’m on to the next one, as there seems to be a point when enough is just what it is ~ enough.

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