Special Little Challenges

“Dordogne Pastures”
watercolor on paper, 11″ x 15″

In teaching folks to paint, one of my most sacred lessons is about value structure and value sketching. Lights, Darks and Mediums . . . .putting them together in a desirable ratio . . .arranging contrasts and laying together an interesting abstraction of light and dark shapes. That’s all there is to it. Riiiiiiight! This concept is, ofr some reason, extremely difficult for most people to grasp. The idea is to arrange the values, then essentially go and paint how ever the painter wishes . . . . . .because it usually is not the color that makes a painting work, but the value structure.

After a few days of wrestling with values, a challenge was brought forward to paint our very green landscape without using green. Of course, this turns most people’s minds upside down, but it really does show the power of a strong value design.

Here is a little watercolor sketch done without greens in about 15 minutes to answer the challenge.

Today, now that my jet lag is settling down, I am going to the studio and opening up my oil paints again. After all, I have a goal to meet; 100 paintings by Sept 1. I have some 20 to go. Gotta git er done!

7 thoughts on “Special Little Challenges”

  1. Mike, I’m amazed that you did this in 15 min.
    It looks so well planned. And despite the brilliant colors it has great depth.
    I guess you could get the same object lesson with a simple black and white watercolor sketch, but doing it in color poses more of a challenge. right?

  2. Thanks Robin.

    Silvi, your comments are always so positive. The trick to this kind of painting is to look for value differences in the colors. Elio paints with temperature differences and and close values . . . a much trickier proposition. Glad you like it, Elio.

  3. Hey there Mz Nava!! Don’t you sleep? Posting comments at 1 AM is a sign of insanity, didn’t you know that? 😉

    The land of great food and croissants will be missed, for sure. But, the $10 bowls of cereal, sure won’t be. The expense there is incredible!

Join in and comment!