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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Value and Tone

I cannot stand pointless repetitive busy work.  In school this got me into quite a bit of trouble.  Every year in art class the same repetitive tasks would be trotted out and once again we must prove ourselves.

Draw a cone, cylinder and a cube.  Show shadow highlight and perspective.  After the fifth year of that very boring assignment, I drew two figures made of geometric shapes running in terror of an eraser.

Another tedious project involved, mixing secondary and primary colors with white and black to show value and tone.   This project usually was completed by a class of students laboriously leaning over their desks creating a series of squares ranging from dark to light.  By high school I was very tired of that project.

I like art that tells stories.  So when I was 16 years old I painted this value and tone project:  “Hand of God.” 

The Hand of God painted in 1988

If you are going to rebel against an assignment, why not go all the way and bring religion into the image as well.

I love this painting. 

The darkness represents the world before God let there be light.  At the bottom of the painting a bible is painted in sacrificial tones of red.  This is the word of God given to us.  A field of white with little red toned capillaries stretching into the darkness surrounds the book.  This makes the book seem to be shaped like lungs.  Here is the breath of life.  This part of the painting is painted in the warm tones of a wrathful God.

The Word

A rainbow cyclone rises up from the book and represents the covenant God made to his people to never again destroy us by water.  This rainbow ends in the hand of Jesus.  Here the red tones stop and the cool tones reign.  Here is the Prince of Peace.  There is a hole in the center of the hand of Christ.  Here symbols of the zodiac are cast into shadow by the white-hot light of the cross.

A light in the darkness

This powerful painting is a study in value and tone.  There is a double meaning in that phrase.  What do we value?  What is tone of our discussion when describing or creating art. 

I wonder how many other students kept their project from 24 years ago.  Do their series of squares hang upon the wall like my “Hand of God?”

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