Saturday, 11 September 2010

Value, value, value

A few weeks ago my blogging buddy, Peter Ward, posted the photograph below along with his painting of it. Peter is engaged in an interesting project making a set of paintings of native americans from old photographs.

In my comment on his picture I mentioned the fact that the wide range of values in the photograph were not part of his picture plan. Peter asked at the time how that might be done so I decided to have a bash myself using the same source picture.
Apache Brave - photograph

One of the difficulties with watercolour is representing the darkest values without using thick paint and little water and thereby losing one of the great appeals of the medium, its ability to convey a sense of luminosity. Making the darks interesting is another challenge and that requires sensitive use of mixes to retain inherent value and colour interest.

My own work often suffers from poor value range and I have spent some time thinking about ways to improve it so I relished the opportunity to give this project a go.

Whilst only partially successful, poor drawing and some insipid passages, there is a reasonable value range without getting to the darkest end of that spectrum. So all in all I think it needs a bit of dark boosting. The danger in attempting that would be to turn the darks into a muddier broth than I have at present.

Apache Brave - watercolour on Not paper 11" x 9"


Ron Guthrie said...

You did a great job of capturing the look of the subject Mick. Good subject matter too. My Mom is part Apache and my Dad is part Cherokee. Indian subjects always are so facinating to see. I like the splashes of blue added to the painting. Really helps to promote the warm tones in this piece.

Mick Carney said...

Ron - Thanks a lot. I'm having an enjoyable spell revisiting the watercolours, largely as a result of my on line conversations with Peter Ward. It's also more convenient as a medium in terms of house space and preparation as well as being easy to transport. we're doing a bit of travelling at the moment and I'm getting serious oil withdrawal symptoms. Once I get home with all the source material I've collected I'll get back into the swing.

As to the subject matter, at Peter's prompting I've been looking at some of the images of Native Americans and am constantly struck by the depth of character and nobility that they convey. My recent time spent with Navaho in the Monument Valley area was very illuminating.

Peter Ward said...

Hi Mick, Just back from a few days in Cornwall. Your vision of this photo is different to mine but I like the colours. I intend to try again because I wasn't satisfied with my first try. I'm not sure I entirely agree about the value bit because these old photos exaggerate the darks so I follow CR's advice not to become too fixated on this and lighten them somewhat. That's how I interpret what he says anyway. Just done Sitting Bull today and before I went Geronimo, I also have Kicking Bear, boats at Beer and a `Harvest festival' painting done at my AVA group. I'll post some of them but maybe not all.

Mick Carney said...

Peter - The great joy of this painting lark is precisely the fact that we all have our own vision in interpreting the world as it presents itself. I think much of my visual education was garnered during the years that I worked making monochrome photographs, I love those darks. Keep the portraits coming they're great. You've set a good one for the project and hopefully I'll be a bit more prompt than last month.