Shapes, Colors, and Value

This week I have been focusing on inventing shape compositions and playing around with interesting color contrasts. These paintings are built on creating shapes that fill the space of the composition. I was not looking at anything directly but keeping in mind Philip Guston’s approach to shape making. The colors were pre-mixed so I maintained a limited color palette. An instructor of mine had recently brought to my attention the idea that the tonal value of your painting is more important than the colors you are using. So basically you can use colors that vibrate together as long as the tonal value is working first. The tonal value of the painting creates a visual path and allows your eye to move in and out of the painting. This can be applied to representational and abstract painting. When I am mixing paints I am always thinking about the tonal range I am giving myself. Sometimes when I am at a stopping point I will take a photo of the painting and change it to black and white to check my tonal value range. This just allows me to look at the painting in a different way. Even if you are working with an abstract painting the tonal value is important to the composition rather than translating light and dark on an object.

The original painting is on the left and the black and white version is on the right. As you can see there are some issues with the value and putting the painting in black and white just allows you to see those issues more clearly if you don’t see it right away. I think the area in the upper right hand corner can be a darker and the area closest to the bottom can be lightened.


Now this one is working a little better but I think it still needs darker values in the shape to the right or maybe even behind that shape.

So my point overall is that when your trying to figure out what maybe be bothering you in a painting this is a tool that can allow you to see things you didn’t before.

Drawing of the Week:



Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.