This is the first time in many years that I am using a value strip as a reference point on a painting. The truth is that painting white-ish flowers is pretty tricky. Your brain will always tell you that there is no way white can be that dark or intense. As a result shadows are often washed out and the overall painting will lack drama.
When I was in Wyoming last fall, a number of the artists were referencing the value strip while painting en plein air. I get the use of it outside because the sun can be blinding and your sun glasses may alter what you think you see.
I picked one up and frankly, I am really glad I did. At first I was not sure it was a studio tool. I have two white florals on the easel now. The watercolor has been presenting me with the greatest challenge. In order to see the painting develop (and give me instant gratification and a sense of accomplishment) I have been painting the leaves to give the painting depth with the richness of the deep greens. The whites will have to pop. Right?
Well, not quite. I brought out the value strip and my darks were nowhere deep enough. I went back in – gritted my teeth because this just cannot be right and deepened the shadows and dark bits while holding my trusty value strip in hand. I will be the first to admit I prefer to trust my instincts over a tool. But I have promised 2014 will be all about learning and experimenting and stretching way out of my comfort zone. I think I am doing just that. We’ll see how long it lasts