It’s often said that color gets the glory, but value does the work. Yep, but how do we make it work for us?  How do we get value to create the mood we want?  How do we have it direct us to our area of interest or focal point and create a dynamic, rather than static picture?

First off, we want to have a variety of sizes of shapes of different values. Otherwise our piece will be pretty boring and static. We want to vary the proportional amount of area occupied by each value. Think baby bearmama bear,papa bear or a little bitsome and most. Whatever words works for you. The idea is to create a variety of sizes of shapes in each value.

Once you start seeing your piece as a pattern of value shapes, you can check to make sure it’s conveying the message or mood that you intended. Here are six basic value patterns, each with a completely different feel!

The smallest shape naturally becomes the focal point or area of interest.  This is when it is juxtaposed with a larger area with which it has contrast. Think of a Rembrandt painting.

Also, check out the in this piece by Monet.The focal point is really the small figure, but is placed near the trees which provide the most contrast in the scene.

I hope this mini-lesson gave you some ideas on how to strengthen your compositions with strong value patterns and also how to critique pieces by checking to make sure you’ve created a strong value pattern! Next week; I’ll show you some examples of how I simplified my reference to get my idea across!

With Warmest Regards,


Painting Minilessons
with Marla Baggetta

These “mini-lessons” grew out of my blog. I love sharing my experience behind the easel, so these are free. I write a new one every two or three weeks, so please feel free to share with artist friends.

​These lessons are mostly written text with graphics…short but useful tidbits from the foundations of painting that touch on subjects such as aerial perspective, simultaneous contrast or using negative spaces. I guide you through different aspects of painting and art that will get you comfortable with using pastels. You’ll gain confidence to attempt work that you might have otherwise been timid about.

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