Thursday, January 27, 2011


"A very important element in, especially drawings and paintings, is value (or tone).
In this context, value means light and dark. Sometimes referred to by the Italian
word 'chiaroscuro' (literally “light/dark”), value is often described visually by
a scale with varying shades of gray arranged between black and white

So, I have been thinking a lot ("alot" ... lol) lately about composition. Not "where should I put stuff" type of composition, but the down and dirty balance of lights and darks in a given image...

Many of people over the years have said and written (I shall paraphrase the many things I have read in my own words)) that a great painting is still good  image even if in black and white... this has everything to do with the values/light and dark/contrast/etc... in the image, itself.

As a result; I have gone back through many of my pieces, both old and new, and done two things:

1) Made it greyscale.

2) eliminated all middle-tones to get a pure b&w breakdown of the piece.

 "Why?!" I hear you all screaming through the tubez of the intrawebs... because I don't really have a flipping idea of what "good composition" IS!!

REALLY... I don't. I have always relied on "gee... that looks good!" and 96/100 percent of the time, that works. Unfortunately it doesn't work all of the time


As I go through a few of my most recent paintings, as well as a few others I have done in recent years, and apply this newly realized "critical eye", I find something interesting...

 (So please; talk to me if you think I am wrong! {I love a good debate... and who knows?!
you could be right!})


 all my work (that I tested) has a pretty nice dark to light balance going on in it,

Now, it's not quite Golden Mean but it does (again... I think) have a pretty nice dance between
the lights and darks; it certainly aint boring... 

 It's hard to eliminate the subject matter from consideration; but it's important to do so in this exercise. I really want the elimination of color and tone to abstract the image to a pure value scale of black and white... pure shapes of to values intermingling...

 I think it worked :P

Okay okay... like I said above; I am not always successful in my composition... these pieces are not ALL of my "successes", but even if I were to show all my "successes", they would not nearly be half the breadth of work that I have created that was "un-successful" ...


So I want to figure out why the ones that are successful ARE SUCCESSFUL... and I think that this little experiment (along with some in depth research into the subjects of art history, composition, ratio, etc...) are just what the proverbial doctor ordered...

...we shall see...


  1. I think that's an extremely interesting concept. Do I think that some of your paintings look just as good if not better in black and white. Yes I do. I will have to keep that in mind if I ever start drawing again.

  2. SM-

    As I have been (re?)learning; if your values aren't right-on... there isn't that much of an image.

    I guess that the "dance" or balance (regardless of percentage) of b&w (or light to dark, etc...) is the foundation of good composition.

    What type drawing did you do?

  3. I've dabbled in various mediums, but what I've always loved is the simple art of sketching. I love portraits and capturing facial expressions too. My parents own all of my acrylic landscape paintings, which I did when I was much younger in various classes I took for painting. All very humble compared to your work.

  4. oh stop it you...

    ... I completely forsook my art in the early 00's until a time of personal crisis, where I came to the realization that I was compelled to draw/paint.

    The work you see here is the proverbial "99% perspiration" and far from my best; but that is why I am in school, yes? ;)

    Your work is your own an will never be less than that, regardless of what you consider your "skill" to be (as that is all relative)... so revel in it.

    Draw/paint for the love of drawing/painting.