Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Value Study

Last week, 5th grade artists began investigating the concept of value. In art, value is the lightness or darkness of a color. We looked at two different still life paintings, one by Henri Matisse and another by a Dutch painter William Claesz Heda. Students were asked, "which still life painting looks more realistic to you, and why?"
Henri Matisse, Still Life with Magnolia (1941)
William Claesz Heda, Still Life with Oysters, a rummer, a lemon and a silver bowl (1634)
Students noticed that in Heda's painting, the objects appear more three-dimensional, whereas the objects in Matisse's painting appear flatter. Students also noticed that the objects in Heda's painting look like they are actually sitting on top of the table, there are some in front and some behind, and the artist captured the folds of fabric and the shiny light and dark areas of the metal jug in the back. Some students even thought that Heda's painting was a photograph! We discussed how photography had not yet been invented in the 17th century, so paintings were often used to capture life the way we use photographs today.
We then learned more about value and the value scale, considering how to vary the pressure we use with our Ebony pencil to create a value scale that gradually goes from light to dark. We practiced this on our own and then tried to apply this to an actual object.
In order to practice drawing an object and applying these lights and darks, we looked at marshmallows! At first glance, they appear to be an all-white object, but when you look closer, there are areas that are lighter and darker on the marshmallow. Students identified the darkest area of the marshmallow as the bottom, where it sits on the table. The middle values could be seen on the edges of its rounded side, and the top was the lightest because the light source hit the top of the marshmallow first.
We drew marshmallows from observation, starting with a flat cylinder and adding value and shading to create a three-dimensional object on the paper. If students finished one view, they were encouraged to move the marshmallow onto its side and draw it from a different angle, paying close attention to the way the dark and light areas changed.
We will be continuing to study value and apply it in our artwork.

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