Technique Tuesday: A Value Tip From Artist, Carrie Waller

Artist, Carrie Waller. Watercolor on paper.

One of the highlights of 2012 for me was definitely striking up a friendship with artist, Carrie Waller who is part of my “artists mentoring group”.  This special group of 8 female artists meets once a month via video conference to discuss the best practices and approaches to the business side of our art careers.  There is a lot of about Carrie that I admire. Besides being an award winning, internationally recognized watercolor artist, she is also a military wife and mother to two young sons. Carrie’s work is known for being bold, dramatic and full of light and color. She has had art published in Watercolor Artists Magazine, Pratique Des Arts (France’s #1 art publication), Splash 14 and several local publications. Most recently she won the grand prize for Daniel Smith’s annual competition, a prize worth $10,000. Carrie is a guest co-host on Artists Helping Artists the #1 art blog radio show. She is a signature member of the Louisiana Watercolor Society and has her art in collections around the world.

Here is Carrie’s Technique Tuesday tip in her own words; “I’m often asked what medium I paint in because my paintings don’t look like the stereotypical watercolor painting. My intention since I began painting in watercolor, was to push the limits and see how bold I can go with color. My biggest tip for watercolor artists and artists in general is to make sure you are going dark enough. Whenever I see a weaker painting 9 times out of 10 it’s because the values aren’t dark enough. To achieve my darkest darks in watercolor I use a mixture of Daniel Smith watercolors Indigo and Sepia. It creates a beautiful rich dark that is flat and not shiny.”

Carrie’s tip really got my attention because I recently had the same epiphany in my alla prima painting which I discovered from taking regular classes with Rob Liberace. In order to paint expressively with minimal brush strokes in the alla prima way, your values must be spot on. This lesson hit home for me recently while working on the background of my recent commission. I had painted this haystack beautifully with minimal economy of brushstrokes, only to find the value was off which was forcing the haystack too forward and taking away from the importance of the principle figures. So I had to scrape the paint down and begin all over again. In class Rob will often say, “There is no color that is wrong, only the value”.  Now I truly understand what that means.

Thank you Carrie for sharing this very important Technique Tip with us today.

2 thoughts on “Technique Tuesday: A Value Tip From Artist, Carrie Waller

  1. Suzanne, I agree with Rob Liberace. I encounter students who will ask me “what color did you just use?”. I tell them that the exact color is immaterial…what truly matters is what value you paint that color in! Carrie, thanks for the tip!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Helen! I find the topic of value matters more depending on what medium or technique you employ. If you paint indirectly in oils (glazes), you can simply darken with another glaze on top until you achieve the effect you want. When you paint directly–meaning all at once untill you achieve your final state (alla prima)–you have to nail the value from the onset. I imagine the same applies in watercolor. Since I painted mostly in glazes before it was not something that really stuck out in my mind but now that I am painting more alla prima it is as obvious as a neon sign. 😉

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