Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Color and Value in Painting

Dot Turnipseed Svendson is a master teacher of color and values.  While studying 
under Dot, I learned the true importance of values.  Dot stated that 80% of painting is
correct if value is correct. She opened my eyes to the need to place my darks first 
in a painting and then add the lights and to always keep your colors clean and your
values correct. We spent a lot of time mixing colors and comparing values and these
exercises were invaluable.   Another major lesson I learned from Dot was that there are
usually 4 planes to a painting:  (1)  the sky is the lightest, (2) the ground is next in
value (3) slanted objects next value and (4) uprights are the darkest.  During Plein Air 
Painting, Dot encouraged us to write down what we were feeling when we found a
scene so that we would remember when completing our painting.  For instance, was
it a grey day, sunny, warm,  did we feel peaceful, etc. and try and incorporate our 
feeling into our painting.  Dot referenced Carlsons Guide to Landscape Painting by 
John F. Carlson.  In his book, Mr. Carlson states “We have heard a great deal about
“simplicity” and “elimination” about “design” in painting, but we have heard little
about the how or why of it all.  It is easy to say to a student, “see nature simply” but
that means nothing to him. It is a difficult task to explain logically why or how he should
see it simply.  It is not a question of helping him to paint it simply, but rather one of 
helping him see it simply.  If he sees it simply, he will readily find a way of painting
it simply.”  Dot “sees” the painting simply and is able to tell a story without overloading 
the viewer with details.  I find that when I study with someone as great as 
this teacher I do not always come home with a finished painting but I use the opportunity 
to experiment, learn and listen  to her critiques and then I try to incorporate what I
have learned into future paintings. 

I attached an example of the four planes here that I did in the workshop.  I apologize that 
the quality is not very good but she stated it was a good example. 

You can find Dot's website here:


1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed this post. Carlson's book is fabulous and I recommend it all the time.
    I agree with Dot - your painting with the four planes is a perfect example of his theory