7 Value zones

AS I’ve become more adept at the technical aspects of applying paint I have become more and more concerned about composition. It is as if learning to apply paint effectively has freed a portion of my mind to focus more intently on the more critical aspect of painting.


It is important for a painting to look good at 60 feet, at 6 feet, and at 6 inches. A viewer’s first impression is from a distance. If there isn’t some quality that invites the viewer to come closer, the vast majority of positive qualities you have painted into your work will go unnoticed.

So how do you make a painting look good from 60 feet? The answer is to compose using large patterns of interlocking values. Every painting should be designed with four to five major values. These four or five zones should be one solid value with slight value modulations within them.

If you paint the sky in one solid value you will find that when you paint in with different values the basic value will have a kind of momentum which will bias any value that you paint into that basic value zone. (Remember that I am talking about value here not hue. A vibrant sky should have several different hues of one basic value).

When I paint the differing value zones I generally start with the sky, usually a value seven or eight. The trees are the darkest, as upright objects reflecting the least light, and are usually in the two to three value range. So after I lay in this basic value I then paint the lighter portions using a value of four or five (for light hitting the foliage) and the underlying value of two will maintain the overall value integrity. In other words, the original value will persist and bias the value as I paint different values into that zone.

Remember painting with thick paint is an art, not a science, and I only use what seems like a very disciplined technique to reach a specific objective; thick, juicy, vibrating color.



Brad Teare © 2009

Buy Brad’s Art Online Today

Updated: 23rd September 2020
gumroad store

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.