Wednesday, September 9, 2015

VAL-HUES – Can't do without 'em!

This was the first painting I did while visiting Taos in July. Just found it hiding in one of my panel carriers. I was surprised, when I pulled it out, how good I felt about it. I remember setting-up to paint that dag and being very excited by the sparkling morning. Having a distant mountain back-drop with all that beautiful atmospheric color is not something I often get a chance at here in the Texas hill country. My eyes wanted to dive into the distance and develop all the beautiful things they could find in that mountain. It was a problem reminding myself to squint and only paint what I can see as simple shapes in terms of value and hue. "VAL- HUES". I think that Kevin McPherson was the first I heard use that term to describe the inseparable importance of those two in painting.  

The important thing is that neither form or color can come out correctly if the values are wrong. Things will just look and feel off, unsatisfying, dull…wrong! We are able to see form because of light falling on objects and creating shadows. In painting, color is inseparable from value. Every color has an inherent value. Color is composed of hue, value and chroma, or intensity. Color, especially in representational painting cannot be harmonious or accurately descriptive of a particular light source unless it is in right relationship of value with the prevailing light source.

Sunlight, for instance, will have about four value steps between light and shade on any one object (assuming my nine step value scale). If the object appears as a number 3 value in the light, it will be a number 7 value in the shade, and this four-step value shift holds true for every object under that prevailing light source. The light to dark value shift changes in accord with different light sources, indoor sky light, lamp light, candle light, whatever. For form to appear believable the value shift characteristic to a particular light source must remain constant throughout the painting. Beautiful color harmony is more the result of rightly related values than the particular hue of the color. The effect is, however, beautifully enhanced by the contrast or similarities in the selected hues, but that's another post.

©Jimmy Longacre 2015
9x12 oil on canvas panel

Jimmy Longacre
subjective realist landscape paintings

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