In this class we’ll use no color at all, only black, white and gray. You can paint in pastels, use black and white paint, or draw using pencil, charcoal or whatever media you like—but no color.
What's the point? Value is the dark-to-light relationship of all colors in context to one another. It's what color is all about at its root. If you want to learn the effective use of color, you really must consider value (or tone.) Composing from a standpoint of value is a tool you should keep in your art box, too, so we'll be examining both color and composition in grayscale.
Yes, you may most certainly use this as a plan for a future painting to be done in color, but please approach it this week as an independent, finished black-and-white piece on its own. The difference is that if you think of this as a little exercise, you'll most likely just do a quick sketch, not far different from anything you'd do to plan the values of a painting. This piece is meant to be far, far more! It may be quite formal or it can be more casual, but it clearly should be a finished, framable artwork.
|Spoon Basket, 12x9", charcoal|
|Shadowed Gate, 6x4", pencil|
In order to help inspire you, I want you to search for an artwork that you think is successful even though it uses no color. Bring a print of it with you to our class on Thursday to share. This could be a piece done by anyone, at any time, in any medium, depicting any subject, but executed in black-and-white. Go look at what other artists have accomplished and spend some time analyzing why it works. You might look at pencil artists, those working on scratchboard or printmakers as possible sources, aside from painters. The graphic arts abound with good black-and-white work--but please seek out original work, rather than someone rehashing an image, which is also common.
Because I occasionally receive requests to use my photos, I'm also posting three photographs here that you may use as inspiration for your black-and-white piece. If you have your own photo that inspires you, feel free to use it. Please, gang, do NOT 'borrow' someone's photograph! I really don't want to see a calendar photo, or something from National Geographic, even if it's 40 years old. Consider taking some of your color photos and changing them to grayscale as a resource for this painting. (Hint: Plug your color photo into a Word document, highlight it and, using the photo toolbar, click on 'Color' and select 'Grayscale'. Adjust the contrast to your liking....Voila! One grayscale photo you can print.)
Anyone has permission to paint from my personal photographs below. Click on them to get a larger printable version. They have no copyrights or exclusions:
Feel free to tweak these grayscale photos any way you want to, flipping, cropping, lightening, darkening--anything you desire to make it your own. Just keep it grayscale for our class this week. The idea is to explore a detailed composition in black-and-white to hone the values. Don't feel trapped by the photograph. Change what needs changing in value! If an area is overly dark or too washed out, you can easily create the detailed values needed to better express that area in your piece. Come prepared to work in black-and-white in class, any size, any medium, any surface you care to use.
Also bring with you the Repaint It piece from last week, if you like. I'll be interested to know if changing to another medium has gotten you thinking a little differently! We'll do a quick critique of ONE painting from each student to start our class, as usual.
See you on Thursday,