I'm very excited to be a part of this exhibit that opens November 13th at the Peninsula Art School's 'Guenzel Gallery' in Fish Creek, WI. The artists have been selected because of the 'value' they see in using black and white in their art either as a final statement or as a means to a better understanding of their subject... or both I suppose.
I first began to use value as most art students do during art school; where black and white work is mainly seen in drawing class, or as a preparatory step towards a more complicated full palette painting. Had I gone to an Atelier', there would have been even more time spent in black and white before even being allowed to venture into color.
In my case, as an illustration major at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA, my pivotal moment came when I was given a class instructed by Dan McCaw... Painting I. In Dan's class we painted the model and still life in a full value palette, I think it was a mix of Thalo or Prussian blue and Raw Umber or something like that. In other classes we used black and white to do prelim's and design considerations, not to mention all of the drawing from the model that went on. I'll admit to wanting to 'get to color' back then, but now know how important that was for me to have gone through.
I didn't fully realize the 'value' in those early instructive moments until I began to teach students myself. Once faced with the issues that students bring to a class, I began to go back in time and search for the most important lessons that I had learned during my own schooling so that I could bring that to my own classes and students. I quickly realized that the most valuable training that I had in school was centered around understanding value and it's relationship to color. This is the basis for what most people seem to want to know and understand more about than any one thing in a class... COLOR!
The understanding of value relationships and how they translate to color relationships in and around the subject, and consequently onto the painting, is key to using color in a more effective way in painting.
Now in my own workshops and classes, there are at least two days of value work before we move onto color theory and practice. Consistently I get feedback saying that those couple of days are the most valued segments of the class time. Most of us don't think to head outside and paint, the landscape for instance, in black and white. Why would you with all of that color out there? But I think that once we find out that what we're doing a lot of the time outside is trying to 'understand' nature, to look for the truth to what we are seeing, it becomes obvious that understanding value structure is as important to the mood of the painting as is color.
Here's a blog that some of my students started after a workshop to encourage each other to continue to work in value. They've added color but still continue to use the value studies to enhance and boost their knowledge.
"Black & White Painting Challenge 5.26.09'
In the exhibit I'll be showing plein air work. Possibly one large studio piece. If you're in the area, I hope that you will stop into the gallery before the end of the year to take a peak at the show.