Well…here is my first attempt at “studying” art! In Carol Marine’s book Daily Painting, she discusses what value is, and how important the proportion of value is to a painting. Essentially value is lightness and darkness of color.

Marine suggests that the value proportions in a painting should include a ratio of dominant, secondary, and smidge. Instead of all three values (dark, mid, light) being equal in a painting, choosing one of these values to make up approximately 2/3 of your painting (dominant), a second taking up about 2/3 of that last third (secondary), and the remaining comprised of the “smidge”, a painting will appear much more dynamic. Of course, as an untrained painter I have never heard of this, and seeing it in use in her book is really interesting. Kind of like discussing the different timbres that a marimba bar can produce, or how a certain set of mallets can completely change a marimba solo.

To be aware of values, Marine advises the artist to squint while looking at a prospective subject to paint, in addition to squinting while painting on the canvas to be aware of your value proportions. This helps to eliminate details you may see in your subject or painting, and allows you to only focus on value.

Painting a coffee cup, saucer, and spoon is a lot harder than it might look! I certainly would go back and round out the lower left portion of the saucer to create a more geometrically accurate relationship, but I’m pretty pleased with the outcome of this study with about one hour worth of work from start to finish.

Certainly not all of my small painting will be studies, but this feels like a great place to start.