Seeing the value in colored objects is the next step. Every color has a value. Every object has a color. Before we move into painting with color, let’s make sure you can see the value in that color. For instance, red is a darker value than white – so if you have an apple and an egg to paint, you will be sure to make the light in the egg lighter than the light in the apple, because in its base state the value of the egg is lighter than the value of the apple. In the same way, the shadow in your apple will be darker than the shadow in your egg because the apple is darker in value than the egg.
In this next exercise you will be setting up a simple still life with colored objects that have distinctively different values – something light, something medium, and something dark in value. Ideally, your objects will also vary in shape and size so you can practice creating more complex value shapes. Arrange them to please your eye, light them from one direction, and paint your set up using only your gray values. Where are your darkest darks – where are your lightest lights?
In the next section we move into painting with color, and color is fun, but don’t underestimate the power of the grayscale paintings!