Current project: Working on some pieces that can be used as cards. It’s a good time to start some Valentines.

I do a lesson on Value in my Design Class. I find myself almost glossing over this particular segment most of the time. It is so blah, so dry, so  g r a y… But I have recently been finding that it is ultra important, especially if I want to create a sense of realism! Watercolor is such a light medium, but if you push it straight out of the tube and don’t add too much water except to keep the paint pliable, you can get a rich – DARK – BLACK. Oh, and actually quite a variety of blacks, from warm blacks of fire to cool blacks of ice, depending on which color you push – red or blue!

This piece I am working on currently has a lot of flowing leaves and in order to make them realistic it requires some shadows. This time I really went for it and pushed the shadow as far as I could dare. It really pumps the drama in the piece. It also seemed to make the leaves much more believable. Also I was hoping it would help to push the little mouse forward and deepen the nest. Such experimentation on the darks rarely happens for me. I get so excited about the piece starting to emerge I am scared to break the spell and add any more paint. With watercolor you absolutely cannot go backwards. There is no substitute for that glorious white under that transparent paint.


I also tried adding some hairs to this little mouse as detail after the initial color was laid down. It also was scary but if I used a very light version of the same color, I could get hairs without changing the value. Purple hairs were called for here, to help blend this little dude into the background.

As I fill this work in around the mouse, I see the value aspect is working for me much better than usual. I do not think that it is successful as a Valentine, however, which was my original objective! He looks like a lonely little mouse. I am going to use this concept and try this again with a 2 mouse vine house!

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