The top painting was the last painting in the Jennifer Balkan class, and I used all my new skills and mojo in it. It was a 45 minute pose using 4 values (I don't think I even used the lightest for a highlight) and also adding local color (red on hands, cheeks, etc) during the last few minutes. Although this is no Olympia, I felt good about it as I did it, because I am understanding the major concept here which is: identify and consolidate like values into one significant value and lay it in in a mass, connecting adjacent masses where possible. You do it for three value categories, then there is the highlight. The result is that the painting reads clearly. I think if you want to have powerful painting, this must be mastered. It is only one of the things that must be mastered, but if you don't get this one, I think it's all over. This is going to take some practice though.
Today I found a mourning dove in the street and brought it in to paint. They are so beautiful and soft with all the grays and roses and yellows. I wish I could have another go at her but I didn't think to refrigerate and now it's too late. I didn't get the correct values for the top of the breast, it isn't light enough and the form doesn't turn. So many colors - it needed simplification and I got caught up in the variety of them. This is an example of not identifying the values correctly because of color temptation!
Jennifer talked about another tool to use when you are working from a photograph. She uses a gray scale photo in addition, which makes the grouping of values clearer. I think gray scale means the same thing as a black and white, which can be done in photo programs. I have a Mac and the iphoto program will do it. So I will try this in my next animal portrait which is coming up soon. So many good things in that class!