Thursday, November 29, 2012

Make Your Holidays Sparkle (With Value Contrast!)

Holiday Prep I, pastel, 9x12

Holiday Prep II, pastel, 9x12
This week in my classes I wanted to do something a little on the festive side for the holidays. And I also thought it was time to break away from photos again and tackle some still life work.

I chose the items for these still life set ups with a wide variety of surface textures in mind. In each, I purposely chose a mat finish ornament to go beside the other shiny ornaments. The transparent satin ribbon, cloth background and smooth wood surface also added a nice variety of textures to study closely.

Some of the ornaments also had textured decorations on them. It was interesting to note that even though some of the sparkly  designs on the ornaments were actually white in color, the highlights on the shiny ornaments were still lighter in value than the white areas, just due to the fact that the nondecorated area of the ornament was very reflective. The white areas were not a shiny texture and therefore didn't reflect nearly as much light. Shiny, reflective objects tend to have larger extremes of lights and darks than less shiny objects with more of a mat finish. The black fabric in the background is the least reflective and has the least amount of value contrast.

For both of these pieces, I started with a quick  monochromatic underpainting using an alcohol wash on mounted Uart 320 paper.

Underpainting for Holiday Prep I
The set up for Holiday Prep I


  1. Hi Barbara! I absolutely love how you finished this piece. Your work has so much more life and energy in it than the photo! I kept glancing back between the two in awe. Beautifully done!

  2. Thanks, Vanessa! My goal is never to make it look like a photo, so hopefully I've done my job here! I appreciate the nice feedback.