"Remember that whenever you alternate warm and cool paint
layers, you not only build up the paint layers, but also achieve
a richer color effect." John Kevin Flynn, "Answers"
Artists Magazine March 92 p. 107
Value: 1. A fair return in money, goods, services, etc., for
something exchanged. 2. Monetary worth of a thing; marketable
price. 3. The quality or fact of being excellent, useful or desirable;
worth in a thing. 4. Estimated or assessed worth; valuation. 5.
Precise signification; import; as, the value of a word. 6. Distinctive
character or quality of sound, esp. in speech; as, phonetic value.
7. That property of a color by which it is distinguished as light
or dark; luminosity; brilliance. 8. ART. Hence, in painting and
other graphic arts, the relation of one part or detail in a picture
to another with respect to lightness and darkness. [OF. fr. valoir,
past part. valu, to be worth, fr. L. valere to be strong, to be
3. Practice: "Learning bears fruit when it is applied."
Reading the values of colors:
Many students have expressed difficulty to me at "seeing"
the value (relative lightness or darkness) of color. Here is an
exercise I pulled from American Artist, July 92, that will help
First, make a grey scale, running from pure white to deep black.
Use any medium. Put the blocks of shades so they are running across
the top of the page.
Now, take your palette of colors and decide where the fully saturated
color falls in relation to the grey scale. (For instance, you
will find that the blue generally falls towards the "black"
end while the yellow falls towards the "white" end.
You can extend this exercise by diluting the color (with water
if watercolor or white if other) or adding black or a complementary
to push the color towards the dark or light end of the grey scale.
As a final exercise, see how well you did by either taking a
black and white photo or xeroxing the final exercise.
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