Preliminary Study 1 : Value study

Tracing, Cartoon, Inking in, Imprimatura, Value Study in Optical Greys

This preliminary study will address a number of techniques we will use, and is an important ‘warm-up’ exercise giving an overview of methods, in order to work on our main piece.

The guidance, materials and prep for our first practical study next monday. 

Its important to gather

  • Tracing paper
  • HB Pencil
  • Charcoal
  • India Ink (or walnut ink) – Sennelier. This ink does not dissolve under the influence of either acrylic OR oil which is why we use this genuine shellak ink. If you cannot get this brand of ink then please test it does not melt under the unfluence of water.
  • A4 canvas or panel
  • Masking Tape
  • Acrylic Raw umber or burnt umber

We will be making tempera grassa which requires

  • cold pressed or stand linseed oil
  • eggs x3
  • damar varnish (in liquid form)
  • gum turpentine
  • titanium white powder

IF YOU CANNOT GET THE TEMPERA GRASSA MATERIAL IN TIME, you can use Titanium White Oil Paint or Casein/Tubed Egg Tempera

of the approximate kind I showed in Zoom call or on student resource materials page

Reference study 
You will need access to a printer to make printouts.

Please note : The purpose of this exercise is not creative. It is an academic, skill building exercise in order to increase our skills with handling tempera grassa and understanding optical greys, as well as our ability to perceive values. Values refer to everything from white to black, they refer to the lightness or darkness of our greys or colors.

Please take time to observe some of the features of the following image by Pierre-Paul Prud’hon (Study for La Source c. 1801, Black and white chalk on tinted paper). Notice that this image is created on a midtone. He has used black and white chalk to artfully render the form as it is revealed by light.

I want to emphasise, he did not mix the white and black together. He controlled their intensity upon the mid tone to produce his high keys and low keys.

Think about how similar this is to a mischtechnik underpainting. As mentioned, we SCULPT before we glaze.

Sometimes the mischtechnik paintings start on a very strong red imprimatura. But this need not be the case for our study, since a highly chromatic red can easily throw off our ability to judge values. Therefore, we are going to train our understanding of optical greys and values by following in the path of the old masters, and making a study from a sculpture, or a sculptural grey-tone image.

Finding a Reference Image for the Study

Please observe the following images and try to grasp why they make for ideal reference material for this study.

Notice that there is crisp delineation between shadow shapes, quiet midtones, and highlights.

Some of these images exist in the full value range (fairly equal disperson of values from black to white), whereas dimmer, more subdued images are said to be ‘low key’. Bright images with not much dark are said to be ‘high key’.

I wish to give you the option to resource your own study in order to make the process more personal. If you wish for the study to work off a photograph of a human being, then ensure the photograph contains a full value range. Avoid bleached out photographs or where the model has facially contoured with makeup, as working from such photographs gives little nuanced information to work from.

You will need to print out x2 black and white prints of your chosen image. One of these could be a high quality version, the other should be on plain A4 as it will be sacrificed to the process of transferring it onto your A4 study canvas.

If you wish to pass by your image to check for suitability, please submit it to the facebook forum.