Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Being Bold

"American Interior"
6" x 6"

One of the most difficult things for me when painting, is getting the values right.  While I was working on this painting today, I just couldn't seem to get the glow on the window's mullions, nor was I achieving the overall drama that I wanted. So I took a photo of my painting, desaturated it in Photoshop (turning it into a black and white image) then compared it to a black and white image of the real photo. Wow! I was sooo off. It's hard to remember sometimes, that in order to create "popping" whites, you have to have the dark contrasts. Because I have a tendency to overwork my paintings, I'm often gun-shy when it comes to pushing the values and achieving those darkest darks. But as long as I remember to use a full range of values, creating the contrast I need, I'll be able to obtain those glowing whites.  And the black and white image "trick" is VERY helpful as I have a very difficult time seeing the value in color. I still have some work to do before I can call this painting done, but I feel much better that I'm headed in the right direction.

Below you'll see my before and after value images, along with the original photo. Happy painting!

(the "before" value image --  notice that the wall
and the outside values are all wrong)

the actual photo's value image

(the "after" value image -- this is from the color
painting image at the beginning of this post)


  1. I'm an oil painter rather than watercolor, but value is, of course, sooo important in either medium. It's something I also struggle with. This is such a beautiful little watercolor. So evocative. I think you've nailed it.

  2. Helpful stuff, Kara - thanks for sharing. I've implemented Photoshop in checking my work once before when I was really, hopelessly stuck, but I don't do it enough. You've re-inspired me to pause over problems more often - to think more instead of paint more. Thanks!
    ps - gorgeous interior scene - the planning paid off! ♥

    1. Thanks Karen . . . and I know what you mean, I don't use this method nearly enough to help me. I tend to just want to keep painting rather than pausing too. :)

  3. Very clear in your photos how important those values are! Truly brings all the focus to the light in your window. Love this right where it is now.

  4. Beautiful painting Kara, love the darks! I have problems with values at times...usually through not enough planning. This is great!

  5. I love this trick -- got to try it myself! I love the glowing effects of the back-lit windows in the final image, and your brushwork on the pattern of the curtain! Also, love how the juicy pigment piling up on the surface of the wall creating interesting texture effects. Bravo!


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