A Study in Tonal Values
With this in mind I have decided in this exercise to look at tonal values. I believe good use of tone is just as important as good use of colour and in a good painting they should go hand in hand.
Most readers have probably at some time painted a monochrome, and while this makes a good exercise, I have decided in this subject to use three colours, Cobalt Blue, Translucent Grey* and Burnt Sienna. This will give us a bit more scope than just one colour, whilst at the same time still limiting us, thereby forcing us to think in terms of tonal value, in order to create a feeling of depth and distance.
As you can see in figure 1, I have made a simple drawing of the subject to establish the horizon line and the shapes of the mountains. After drawing the outlines I painted on masking fluid, preserving some white paper to appear like snow on the mountain tops. I then mixed a thin wash of Cobalt Blue, followed by a thin wash of Translucent Grey. Then after wetting the whole sky area with clean water I laid these colours in with a No. 16 round brush, before leaving them to dry.
Once the sky had dried I removed the masking fluid before mixing two washes; another thin wash of Cobalt Blue and a slightly stronger wash made from a mixture of Cobalt Blue and Translucent Grey. I then used a No. 4 round brush to paint some thin shadows (observing that the light was coming from the right) with the first wash before adding some dry brushwork to the hills using the second wash. As you can see the slightly stronger colour starts to bring some of the hills further forward, just by virtue of being a stronger tone.
In figure 3 I have continued the dry-brush work, gradually introducing a stronger tone of the same mixture of Cobalt Blue and Translucent Grey, particularly where the distant mountain meets the water line. Once this had dried I added a touch of Burnt Sienna to the mixture to strengthen the tone, before starting work on the right hand mountains using a No. 8 round brush, taking care to leave a few dry white areas to represent the patches of snow.
This dark tone was used for the whole of the right hand mountain, ensuring that each consecutive mountain came down further towards the foreground. This is vital to further emphasise the sense of distance.
Geoff is now putting together his programme of one day workshops and painting holidays for 2009. For details of these, or to receive information about his winter exhibition to be held in November at the Corner Studio in Darley Dale, Derbyshire, contact him on 01629 735191 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.geoffkersey.co.uk
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