|9x18 watercolor underpainting|
|9x18 pastel, value study|
Jean-Francois Millet is reported to have said upon frequent occasions, " The end of the day is the test of a picture" By this he meant that in twilight the colors in the picture are merged into the masses of light and dark, the details are subordinated also to these masses, and it is possible to judge whether the values of a picture, which are it's very soul and body, are properly related. To quote in his own words from Sensier, "If a sketch is seen in dim half light at the end of a day has the requisite balance-ponderation-it is a picture; if not, no clever arrangement of colors, no skill in drawing or elaborate finish, can ever make it into a picture."
This was written in 1910 in a New York Times review by art critic Charles DeKay. It was in reference to an exhibition of contemporary American landscape painters. It was at the time of the clash of the Tonalists, in particular Charles Warren Eaton and the realism of painters like Bellows and Robert Henri. DeKay used Millet as the yardstick upon which to measure all modern landscapes.
Put simply- values matter. Your work must have a structure based in value (not color) that relates in a strong composition and reads dramatically from a distance.
Thinking about this I have created a value study and watercolor underpainting...so far. It will be about evening twilight before the snow flurries burst out of the clouds. The drama. The excitement and beauty. I remember this particular day and have painted about it before, see link. I didn't use this January painting as a guide, in fact I never even looked at it till now. I just remember it so well. First I created the watercolor underpainting -easy. But I know that if the finished painting is to succeed I must get the value structure right. I must admit, I struggled with that value study.