The Value of Studies: The Study of Values


Maturity has taught me that executing quick studies is the most important tool gained from over 35+ years of painting.  As an “immature” artist, I thought that I neither needed, nor had the time to create studies prior to executing a painting.  However, experience is a great teacher.  I now know that studies are the “hall pass” to depart from the predictable and to run wild!  Studies are the permission slip to take risks and explore all of the possibilities!

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I highly recommend the implementation of studies if you wish to s-t-r-e-t-c-h yourself as an artist.  The practice is low risk and high yield.

My current method involves using small pieces of paper or board (approximately 4”x 6”). I invest a mere five minutes to explore the opportunities in each visual idea.  Initially, the simple pencil thumbnail sketch explores the painting’s composition and value pattern.  Once determined, I move on to various color schemes for the imagery.  Within ten to fifteen minutes you can try out three or four different possibilities from one composition.

Studies can be executed in any medium that can be quickly applied to small boards or papers.  I use pastels because I can get rich color statements in only a few minutes.  Once executed, the color studies are posted where I can see and contemplate them for several days (or weeks or months) until I commit to the one that best communicates the visual and emotional impact desired.

Next time I’ll explore practice, or “10,000 hours”.  Stay tuned