One of my students asked me this question last week:
“What makes a landscape painting work”?
There are a few things to consider here, but there is no doubt that the most crucial is Tonal Value and Value Relationships.
Value is about the lightness or darkness of a colour shape.
Value Relationships is how we relate value shapes when we are painting something. It's how broadly we look at our subject and understand that all the elements there relate to each other in a way that it creates coherence to the scene.
Value is the backbone of representational painting. Understanding it well is the foundation to develop our skills as painters. It’s what lies under colour and, when represented well, it creates a convincing sense of depth and form. And value in the landscape is different from value in any other subject.
So, I put together the 6 reasons why understanding Value and Value Relationships is crucial to improve our skills to paint landscape better:
FORM - Tonal value differentiation gives the illusion of form and 3D aspect to objects. Seeing and representing those variations well will give roundness and form to a tree, trunk, hills, mountains and other elements in the scene.
DEPTH - The atmospheric perspective makes objects appear lighter as they recede and darker as they advance in the scene. Relating the tonal values of the elements seen in a scene well, will create a sense of depth and space in your landscape painting.
SIMPLIFICATION - We can’t actually replicate all the details and all the colours and value ranges that nature presents to us. So, when painting a scene, it’s essential to simplify it and try to capture its essence. We can do that by grouping the elements and shapes into value masses.
PLANE - Switching our brain into the “value mode” helps us look for planes and angles rather than things. That will guide you on what direction to move your brush and when to change a colour or tone.
COLOUR MIXING - Value is the most important aspect of colour. You’ll feel more confident to mix colours when you truly understand the value structure of your subject. When you learn how to see value divisions in a scene and mix your colours based on this principle you can create a system to mix the same colours you want again and again.
LOOSER APPROACH - When you learn how to see value divisions and simplify the complexity of a scene it becomes easier to take your painting into a painterly approach. Simplification and grouping are the keys here.
Understanding values and value relationships and learning how to implement essential principles and techniques is how you’ll take your landscape painting to the next level!
Would you like to find out how to improve your skills to paint landscape better?