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Value Sketches

The Reference Photo I will Use to Create the Flag Painting

The Reference Photo I will Use to Create the Flag Painting

After deciding which flag photo reference I would use for my painting, I then transferred the image from the photo onto drawing paper, which then gets transferred one last time to my watercolor paper.  Lots of steps, I know.  However, in the long run, if I ever decide to do this painting again in the future, the drawing is preserved and ready to go.

For my art style, the labor is all on the front end of the process.  When I finally get to pick up a paintbrush and apply paint, it all goes pretty quickly.  After having transferred the drawing from my drawing paper to the watercolor paper, I now set all of this aside, and begin doing value sketches.  Since I focus on macro-paintings, (close up views of any single object)  I typically will only break down my value sketches into three values, dark, medium and light.   Those values inserted into the background, middle ground and foreground will give me 8 combinations from which to chose on how to proceed with the composition.

Another sheet of plain paper is pulled out, and I create 8 blank squares approximating the size and shape of the parameters of my watercolor paper.  Then, I sketch in only the rough shapes of my composition.  I do not put in any details.  It isn’t a sky, a flag pole and a flag I am drawing in, but rather, a rectangular shape, a long line, and a square.  I do that within each square – again, tracing paper comes in mighty handy at this point.

The rest of my time is spent shading in the different combinations of values within the compositional shapes.

Four of the 8 Value Sketches I did, I have narrowed down to two

Four of the 8 Value Sketches I did, I have narrowed down to two

I am drawn to two of the value sketches, the two on the bottom because I think they are compositionally strong, and provide greatest potential for impact.  The first bottom left sketch  has a dark foreground, medium background and light middle ground.  The sketch next to it  has a medium foreground, a dark background and a light middle ground.   After some contemplation, I have decided to go with the bottom left value sketch: dark value foreground, medium value background and light value middle ground, with the center of interest and focal point going into the light middle ground.

That’s the plan for this painting….but, you know what they say, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray.”  Let’s hope that isn’t the case with this painting plan.

Stay tuned for the next step the actual painting process.