Tuesday, October 18, 2011

the value of value (and gradation) part 1

For some reason I find it easiest to teach value by going paint, then crayon, then colored pencil then graphite. So we start with paint.
Official definition of Value (tone, tint, shade...) "refers to the use of light and dark, shade and highlight, in an artwork."

Middle school definition of value..."this is hard, why do we have to do this....I want to do something fun!"

Ah teaching value at a more advanced level can be a pain in the butt. I find younger students are perfectly happy to learn how to make tints and shades with paint...they delight at the magic of creating colors. Middle school students are less impressed. Remember I'm working with 6th and 7th graders who have never had art before...so they need to learn some basics but are not longer easily amused. I need them to learn how to make tints and shade, tone, or value or whatever you call it in your classroom with paint, colored pencil or crayon and the dreaded graphite pencil.

Most students can easily grasp the idea of tints and shade in paint and when guided create a decent black and white gray-scale in paint and tints and shade of a color. While not the most exciting thing in the world it is pretty easy to to.
Students that feel tint and shade is too easy are challenged to gradate between two or more colors on the color wheel. Then to show their new skills I asked them to tint and shade or gradate a background and add a silhouette image. I even give them some silhouettes of people in motion as I am more interested in their ability to tint and shade or gradate than anything else.
6th graders shows she gets the concept
6th grader who basically understands the concept but needs a bit more practice with making small changes in color and using the paintbrush
7th grader who has been exposed to the concept twice now. Understands the color mixing... decent but not great paintbrush control
7th grader: 2nd time exposed to concept. Has mastered tints, good paintbrush control and starting to think about compositional choices as she choose to have her tinting follow the shape of the silhouette.

One of three bulletin boards showing off value or gradation, lots of teacher and student response to these.


  1. These are so beautiful! I love the dancer!

  2. The ballerina reminds me of old ipod ads/ commercials. remember the silhouettes dancing? could be an interesting way to introduce this lesson. I enjoy the variety and contrast used by your students!