AbEx – Value and Composition

Abstraction, Value, and Composition

Blue and Orange – Jonathan Nelson

The idea behind this first artwork was to re-introduce the kids into the idea of the use of value. So often the students have a difficult time making sure they push their dark values as far as they can while also keeping the bright values light and clean. In addition to the ideas of simply black and white, we then have the challenge of introducing color to the mix. Then there are all the other values in the middle… how does one make sure they are aware of all the various grays, tints and shades? This artwork was set up so that they were aware of the variety of values that were available to them.

Composition is another aspect of creating art that is essential in the curriculum. The arrangement of “colored squares” is an important study in unity and balance. Does the drawing have a balanced sense of light against dark, monochromatic with achromatic, did the placement of the complimentary color add to that sense of unity? What sort of composition was developed? Is it a “Rule of Thirds,” “Vertical,” or “Horizontal” in nature?

Abstraction is, in and of itself, another challenge that students, and even adults, don’t necessarily fully understand. How can one create a successful artwork that deals with only color, value, shape, and technique and still be considered a successful artwork? One does not have to have a recognizable image to walk away with a quality work of art. We looked at the works of Sean ScullySqueak Carnwath, and Jean Metzinger as examples of how shapes, values, and composition were developed to create successful works.

The initial artwork was loaded with many different and challenging aspects that may not always be fully realized until later in the art making process. The use of the materials (charcoal, pastel, blending tools, masking materials, keeping artwork clean and neat) is a skill that is being worked on. We also took the time to share ideas, struggles, and challenges of the artworks that each of the artists had. Through the use of written and oral critiques, we all spoke about the challenges, solutions, and even responses they had to one another’s artwork.


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