Sunday, February 22, 2015

Why Are Value Sketches Important?

Some people don't see the value in value sketches.  They like to go straight to the canvas and paint or draw on the canvas, then paint.  For some, it works wonderfully; for others, frustration follows.  Plein Air painters are some who benefit from going straight to painting on the spot because lighting changes so quickly.  Still, some will do a color version of a value sketch and do the final painting in their studio.

My process is through black and white value sketches.  They are a warm up before the workout.  They help keep myself from having artist block at paint time and I like to know how the composition will be before I paint. Having a well laid out plan is key for me.  With this plan comes the leeway to go off the plan as painting commences.  That's important to remember to allow freedom for spontaneous changes.

First, there is thought.  Thought of color, value, composition, breaks of space; then, moving into applying that thought into a preliminary sketch or value sketch before creating the final painted piece.  Getting the bugs worked out so-to-speak so there is freedom to explore with the painting process and not be hindered, by unforeseen complications.  There are plenty of challenges still left to conquer, but far less because of the sketch work.

Here are a few examples.
The original sketches to the housekeepers and Reciprocity (Dual Message) would be considered thumbnail sketches because the original drawings are only about 5 x 7 inches.

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Thumbnail sketches and value sketches are basically the same thing.  Thumbnails are just smaller, quicker preliminary sketches.  

The Peace And Justice sketch wasn't very quick to do and was 11 x 14 inches.  I would consider this to be a value sketch.  The final painting ended up as quite a large finished piece.  30 x 40 inches.
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No need to have them super complicated. The horse sketch titled, Determination, was a very quick 11 x 14 inch value sketch intentionally kept minimalistic.  Painted Determination was an oil done on a 9 x 12 inch canvas board and wasn't quick to do at all.  It had several layers with drying time in between.  The purpose of this technique was to make it look like a Greco-Roman wall painting.  Keeping the sketch minimalistic helped me think out the final piece to appear more simple.

Here is another 9 x 12 inch canvas version of the Determination horse in oil painted with only a pallet knife.  Actually, this one was done before the brown, oil version, Painted Determination 1, and took a very long time to dry because it is thick with paint.  Both of these colored versions could also be considered value sketches too as they are small. 
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Some pieces are more necessary to have a value sketch done first.  For instance, when models and reference photos are used.  It can end up taking lots of hours of prep work to use models and photographs, but it is always well worth it.  When I don't go through this process, my work rarely succeeds. Besides that, sketching is enjoyable and many times end up as salable.  Most of my value sketches are sold or have sold as prints. 
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Mercy Sketch and Persecution Sketches are about 9 x 12 inches.

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Making notes on the side of the sketch is a great way to capture the desired composition, mood, color, direction of lighting and is a good refresher for the times when painting the painting that same day just isn't possible.  It makes for a good reminder to your initial inspiration for creating this painting in the first place.

Thumbnail/value sketches don't all have to be black and white.  You can make a color version too.  Sometimes I make a color swatch specific for that painting; which is also very helpful to freeing up creativity in the painting stage.

So, In Short, Top 6 Reasons Why They Are Important
1.  A plan of attack to release painting freedom.
2.  Create a pleasant composition and breaks of space.
3.  Editing unnecessary content.
4.  Value study for mood and lighting.
5.  Loosing up painting muscles.
6.  Bonus points - Salable sketch.

Prints, cards, phone cases, and pillow cases of all of these are available.  Simply click the image of interest or go to MY WEBSITE.

More value sketches not yet painted but available as prints:

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Initially meant as a preliminary sketch, but now I've created a series of drawings like these horses for the additional purpose of selling the original sketches as well as prints of the sketches.

This drawing of swimmers preparing for the swim portion of a triathlon was suppose to be a preliminary drawing for a painting, but decided it is complete as is...for now.

A complicated composition(restaurant in Pirates Alley, New Orleans) made simple by editing the excess.

 This little ballerina is intentionally unfinished. She's new at dancing and has a lot to accomplish to earn her pointe shoes. She is a work in progress (WIP).

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