Nellie"s Needles

Thursday, November 15, 2007

MORE About The Lauguage of Values/Emotions

The values we use in our art is the language of emotions that triggers reactions. We each naturally respond to various combinations whether we're viewing OR choosing them for our work. Most of us create with what "feels right". That is the heart of individuality. Just as our verbal language is full of nuances depending upon the tone of our voice and words we choose, such is the combinations of values, hues, and patterns that we put together in our art.

Kay had left this comment/question on my post, "Value vs Color".

"This is a fascinating post. I've never heard the ideas about the mood created by different values before. I also have a light value quilt on my bedroom wall (with less contrast than yours) and I agree about the mood effect. I find it peaceful early in the morning. The only one of these I question is the last contrast, medium value (low contrast). Surreal and mystery fits your piece, but aren't the fabrics partly responsible for that? Would all colors create the same effect, do you think? "
She has a good point. I realize this particular piece for that study is on the edge of acceptance for the given description. My choice of fabric patterns does play a role in the surreal mood of the piece. It was the last one I had done of the six pieces because working in a limited middle value range of colors is not easy ... and by then I was DONE. Now that I've shared this theory and those pieces, I guess I'd better address that category more thoroughly.

The book, Color and Fiber, includes a seventh value combination whereas I had presented six. There are two listings for the category of a weak contrast of medium/middle values. The first pertains to a limited range of values. To quote from the book, the mood conveyed by a close range of values is "atmospheric but with a quality more reminiscent of twilight or an unreal dreamlike condition. Words such as slumber, peace, fog, and calm" are descriptive. I went through my photos and came up with these examples. Lake #3 printed in black and white and in color:


"Aquamarine" in black and white:

I had to do quite a bit of pastel work on the fish to make it stand out from the background. There's a warm/cool contrast between the colors/hues but very little contrast between their values.

The second listing for a weak contrast of medium/middle values extends the contrast to some degree in the direction of black and white. It is this extension of the range of values that suggests a feeling of fantasy, mystery, or surrealism. This is the one I had employed in the study.

Many pieces that I make with this weak contrast of middle values get lights and darks thrown into the mix.
"Land of the Unicorn" - 12"x12"
"Coming Unstrung" - 28"x24"
I added dark values, even black and white, to the framing which adds elements of a strong value contrast (strength, directness, richness, openness) to the feelings of fantasy and surrealism within these pieces. (Go here to read more about these two quilts.)

Kay's latest project is about Ghost orchids. I consider that her main choices of middle value hues extended with the addition of dark gray and lights work to give it a ghostly, surrealistic mood. Now, she didn't consciously select these values to get that feeling. However, her innate sense of the effect she desired for this rare and unusual flower led her to choose them.


Many times trouble with a color combination is a value problem.
Theories and principles are good to know when there is a problem in getting the results we're after. This knowledge gives us a direction to look for a solution.

5 comments:

Kay said...

Lake Series #3 and The Land of the Unicorn are perfect examples to make your point. Thanks for more explanation of this topic. I put the book on my Amazon wish list--maybe Santa will notice! Thanks for the mention of my quilt too. I was surprised when I saw the black and white that the tulle orchid is so close in value to the white ones. A black and white view of all quilts would be very helpful in studying value, wouldn't it? And so easy with the digital camera and computer.

joyce said...

Your posts on value have made me look at my quilts in a whole new way. I think a black and white view of a work in progress will become essential for me. Thanks.

jude said...

good post, has me thinking about the point when the theories and principles become part of what we feel...i think value was one of the things that made a difference when i was first studying art.

Shirley Goodwin said...

I agree. And may I say that "Inner Spectrum" is lovely. I would be happy having like that on my wall.

Jan said...

Nellie, I haven't visited your blog in a long time and really enjoyed reading about your gallery experience as well as the color/value discussion. I absolutely love "Coming Unstrung". I feel a connection to this piece as I try and hold onto creative thoughts and ideas, with no time to pursue them.