Understanding the concept of values and learning to mix values accurately are perhaps the most challenging aspects of learning to paint landscapes. Here are five tips that will help you master your values!
Think planes. When looking at the landscape, don’t try to ascertain the value of individual objects first. Instead, think in planes–sky, ground, slanted planes, and uprights. This way of organizing values is based on Carlson’s Theory of Angles. Thinking first of the range of values within each plane, and then to shapes within them, will help you make sense of the landscape.
Value First. Values are the first thing to sort out when learning to paint. They are also the first thing to sort out when starting a painting. Thumbnails and value studies are a good way to do this. Values first.
See/Mix Accurately. Learning to see values accurately can be more of a challenge than we realize. We often confuse value and color (seeing warm colors as lighter in value than they are for example). But, the good news is we can train ourselves to see value accurately, which is the first step to mixing it accurately.
Premix. Premixing your palette before you start to paint is a game-changer. Although many people resist it, it is the best way to insure that you mix your colors and values accurately. Mix values according to the planes in the landscape with a dark and light note, so you can establish the range of values you want to use as you paint. Premix!
Value First. When problems arise, the first thing to check is your values. More often than not, you will find the problem lies there. Take a photo of your work, convert it to greyscale, and check your values before you make any other corrections.
These five tips will set you on the way to getting your values right!
P.S. If you’d like to know more about getting your values right, our Understanding Values in the Landscape online course is now available On Demand!