January 14, 2018

According to Value

Value is defined as the relative lightness or darkness of a color. It is an important tool for the designer/artist, in the way that it defines form and creates spatial illusions. Contrast of value separates objects in space, while gradation of value suggests mass and contour of a contiguous surface. (Read more, here.)

Of all the things I learned in art classes, the concept of value has been the most significant and perhaps the most challenging to fully understand and implement. I work at it constantly and it can make a big difference when you get it right.

I thought I'd use this tag (my first for 2018), to explain some steps I took to adjust the values which you might find interesting or useful.
  1. The lady's dress was bright orange and this warm, strong color was too dominant. To adjust the value, I tinted it with transparent blue (Tumbled Glass Distress Marker). Blue is the complimentary color to orange and when you mix compliments, they cancel each other out. So the bright orange now has a more muted value and settles better into the background.
  2. The flowers were very neutral. I wanted them to stand-out more and appear closer (plus they needed some detail) so I tinted them with lines of pink, orange and turquoise gel pens (Gelly Roll Soufflé). Warm colors appear closer, cool colors recede.
  3. The lady was grounded by using a dark tint under her feet (otherwise, she would appear to be floating). It's subtle, but you may also notice that the grey background is lighter near her feet than higher up. This is a way to create a sense of depth. Distance (like on the horizon of a landscape) is imitated with lighter, cooler colors.
  4. And finally, most compositions are best when there is a mix of bright, dark and medium values. Here, it's the dark greys and black text combined with the bright white dots (extra-fine DecoColor paint pen). The remaining elements fall into the medium range.
If this information was helpful or interesting and you'd like to see similar posts in the future, let me know by leaving a comment.


  1. What an elegant tag! I am glad you explained what you did to adjust the colors. It was very helpful to understand.

  2. Beautiful start to 2018, and as a long-time fan of your artwork, I am very happy to read more about your “process,” and how you work your magic. I also like your taste in music!

  3. Yes, I did find this information helpful. It is like getting a mini art class. Lovely tag and thank you!

  4. I would definitely love to see more posts like this one! I love the insight and process of your work and find it interesting. Tee

  5. I just found your blog. My goodness, all I can say is that I'm enchanted! You are so creative. I dream of being this good. I really appreciate that you explained your steps. Thank you so much.

  6. I think that is one of my favorite post of yours! tag is wonderful ( everytime I see a new work I think the same!) and your explications are absolutely interesting and for me absolutely Helpful! I never attended one Art school , I'm self-taught person but I always loved art in every expressions so I love your idea to write these concepts and I hope you do it again! Barbara

  7. Priceless lesson, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!