The right tone

 Today we will continue the series about “lying about reality”. Last time we saw that you can express it more pompously: “transformation of reality through selection and reduction”. But you don’t learn a lot from big words generally, so I promise to keep it as simple as possible. By the way, before I continue, when you see any images in this series, it is thanks to Edo Hannema’s help and advice. You see, I myself am rather inept at using computers. Now on to practice. In my view, a good painting consists of large shapes and limited use of tonal value and color. I realize that this is my personal opinion, so if you doubt my words, you can always find a different teacher. Let’s forget about COLOR for the moment. That will come later. I do want to address the problems of LARGE SHAPES and LIMITED VALUES together though, because they are related. I am going to turn this series into a kind of course structure, in which we will slowly and gradually attain results. Suppose we want to paint a view of a city with a tangled mess of houses, cars, and people. Where to begin? First of all, try not to think of houses, cars, and people, but think of shapes. Not THINGS but SHAPES. Squinting helps to eliminate details so that only the main shapes in a certain tonal value remain. Simplify the values: a light, a dark, and a middle value. First sketch this in small format with pencil, charcoal, black paint or ink. Try to let shapes of similar value blend together to form a coherent value pattern. The lower the number of isolated shapes, the better. One more piece of advice: don’t apply too many gradations inside such a value plane, as that would counteract the tonal contrast.


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