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StudioSense: How Many Colors Can You Fit in a Value?

Working on detail of a woodland scene, I decided to encourage my habit of populating many different colors in one value (aka light or dark shaded area). A landscape offers numerous opportunities to explore such a technique. I instruct my students to take this approach, as it reminds me of a comment from Jim Markle, a master pastelist (I'm paraphrasing): "Glance at one area of the landscape and see how many colors start to emerge."

The close-up screenshots below represent various areas of a landscape painting-in-progress.

The lightest value represents direct sunlight on a dry ground. Note the blues, pinks and yellows scattered in this area. When done, this portion of the canvas will show fallen leaves and blotches of snow. The tree is another story, containing spots of mold and broken bark. The broken (bark-less) areas are deep blue, some black and deep gray-green.

In the image below I highlight another tree and a variety of middle-value orange, blues and grays.

In this image, the sky holds a variety of colors of very bright value in its lightest portions, and a mix of 2-3 grays, blues and purples in the clouds.

The birch trees show blues and pinks in their warmest spots, with deeper blues, browns, and grays in the shaded portions.

Resorting to a variety of colors (hues) in similar value (lights and darks) areas helps to exaggerate the depth in the landscape and also encourages the artist to experiment with color that may otherwise sit unused in his or her palette!

Here is the current version of the painting. You can see how the detailed dashes of various colors come together in a unified fashion:

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