Persimon-value sketch

Above: Watercolor in Raffine sketchbook

Below: Original photo and grayscale version
Persimmon photo persimmon-grayscale

(Click images to enlarge, select “All Sizes”)

I was inspired to focus on value studies by Katherine Tyrrell’s post about “the best ever workshop” she attended and her instructor’s “constant and particular emphasis on the huge importance of values when painting light.” For tomorrow’s watercolor class I’m going to ask my students to do some value studies and wanted to have one prepared in advance so that’s what my post is about today.

Value studies can be so helpful not just for figuring out the values that actually exist in the reference material, but also for deciding how to change the image before painting it. It gives you a chance to consider where values need to be different to help the composition and for that matter, how does the composition need to change to be more successful?

It seemed to me that my original photo, while bright and colorful didn’t have much of a range of values so I tried to increase the contrast by adding stronger darks when I did the value study. Then I converted the original photo to grayscale to compare to my 0ainted version. I think somewhere in between the two might be best. I scanned the pencil drawing before painting it, so it will be easy to print it again and paint it again, if I decide to.
I’ve found that students usually grumble about having to do value studies–it seems too much like eating enough fiber or flossing teeth. I guess value studies just don’t seem that sexy (I hate it when people use the word sexy to describe things having nothing to do with sex like cellphones, cars, and now painting…but somehow that word works here…though now I’ve probably now increased my spam by using it…) in the way bright wet-in-wet washes or painting glass or thunderclouds are. But there’s nothing that captures light in a painting more than really nailing the values and getting those darks and lights in there.

I took this picture today when I was taking a nice walk in the Berkeley hills with my sister just after it had rained. It was supposed to rain all day today and I was all set for a cozy day at home in the rain but instead it was hot and sunny….in November?

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Join the conversation! 14 Comments

  1. Beautiful job Jana, and now I feel like doing a few value studies. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  2. Cara, this is no ‘JUST’ a value sketch! It is exquisite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I LOVE what you’ve done with grey!!!!

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  3. This such a great reminder of doing value studies and one that I personally needed! I forget to floss also 🙂 After these studies are done, they mean so much and we are happy to have done them.

    And your value study is wonderful all by itself!

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  4. You persimmon really pops out of the page. Great values!

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  5. It’s so much more than a picture of a persimmon the way you’ve painted it. It has so much character compared with a photo. As for value, I must admit that it’s something I’ve never thought of much as an artist and only touched on as a teacher. Maybe it’s an unconscious act with me. I seem to spend all my time wrestling with colour. Colour is sexier after all. (Sorry — I couldn’t resist :))

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  6. Wow, as always this is just wonderful. I am intrigued….I’m looking forward to the adventure, see you later in class.

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  7. Oooh Jana, LOVE this! Just stunning.

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  8. lots of character, i love the way you’ve done the raindrops on the fruit’s skin

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  9. Ah, yes, November in the Bay Area: be sure to bring your umbrella and your sunglasses!

    Your painting is an inspiration. Thanks for posting the original photo and the grayscale, too. Gives me some ideas…I have some photos I think I’d like to paint. Converting them to grayscale will certainly help me.

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  10. Your values make the grayscale picture look so pale and flat in comparison. Bravo. It’s alive.

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  11. Jana — I was also very impressed with Katherine’s posts about her wornderful workshop and the value of value studies — you’ve just proven her point with this one! Can’t wait to see your color painting of this, too.
    (And, wow — you guys grow huge persimmons there! Ours here are little bitty things.)

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  12. This was a great exercise to do and most interestingly done. I really like it.

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  13. really stunning and visualy rich, your site is my favourite learning place.

    Jana- Can I add you blog to my Blogroll. Please let me know if you have any objections and I’ll remove ASAP.

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  14. hi would like to find value of 3 scetch watercolor done by tted hoefloot (originals) graff reinet area thanks

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