Art & Design Magazine

Limiting Values

By Ingrid Christensen

Limiting values

Woman in White
14 x 11

I was thinking of Manet's portrait of Victorine Meurent when I painted "Woman in White".
Limiting values

Manet was masterful at simplifying values; eliminating half tones, and grouping everything into either shadow or light.  It made his work powerfully modern and it expressed strong light perfectly.  There are color changes within each of the major values, but, if you squint, they maintain a simple,  graphic separation between them, reminiscent of the flat, Warhol portraits of 100 years later.
Limiting values

I painted "Woman in White" with a 4 color palette of blue-black, white, yellow ochre and terra rosa. It's a modified Zorn palette which replaces a high chroma red with an earth red.  The resulting color range is deliberately muted to stop me from splashing out into colourist territory.  I wanted this to be a purely tonal piece, almost monochromatic but without the sense of an academic exercise that monochrome sometimes projects.
Perhaps my favorite part to work on was the lost edge between hand and chin.  Squinting showed me that they were close in value so I put them together and used the gap between cheek and palm to make sense of the area.
Limiting values

I enjoyed this experiment in limited value and color.  It makes highly dramatic paintings that have a lot of presence.  I'll carry on noodling with it for a while until color calls me back and I load up a full palette again.
Happy painting!

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