What is the most important element of a painting? The debate swings between colour and values. Also referred to as tone, values are the light and dark elements of a painting and to me they carry the day. I love colour of course, but give me strong values and I can use monochrome and still get an interesting painting.
A great way to get to grips with the values in a scene is to make small value sketches called notans (a Japanese word not easily translated into English). Notans are key, but you can also benefit from using your computer to isolate the basic values in a photographic reference.
Your basic photo editing software will be able to reduce the image to a monochrome. If the program does not allow you to set a two or three value scale then try an online editor like picmonkey. Choose the posterize option and set it for two and then three values to assess the shapes and notan of the scene.
Tip: If there is a not significant light and dark masses (large shapes) then it may be best to find another subject.
A basic black felt marker with a broad nib will be suitable. I have found a great Pentel brush pen that allows you to paint the darks in broad strokes. It comes with four refills and retails for about R130.00.
So there you go. By using notan sketches and posterizing software you can find a strong subject to paint that should translate into a powerful painting.
If you would like to learn more about the fundamentals of painting then join me on Breakthrough Art Workshops.