Is it dangerous to mention the word “scale” in a January post?

This is not about that kind of scale! I’m talking a value scale: a range from white to black and all the values in between. Yes they can be greys, but also – color!

A bit on Saturday’s mess-up:

My apologies for the broken link in the previous post; that caused some massive stress for a bunch of you, and I’m sorry about that.  

The reason I even switched to a newsletter instead of relying on a link to work in an automated email is because of mistakes. I hate being so human that I disappoint readers.

If there’s an error when you receive a newsletter, please just come back in a few hours. Inevitably someone has told me there was a problem and it got fixed. Newsletters link to this blog, and this blog I can edit anytime, but an email in your inbox remains busted.

Tutorial: How to create a value scale BEFORE you paint/draw

Watch the video below and scroll to the end to leave comments or questions — or click HERE to watch it on YouTube and leave comments over there. I read both dutifully!

Black and white value range

It’s relatively easy to think of value when it’s black and white. It’s not hard to see one grey lighter or darker than another. This tiger cub was drawn during the monthly Open Studio zoom call at Artventure, where we gather and just chat while working on our own projects. One attendee said she was surprised because she had thought I had finished already, then I added the richest darks. That inspired today’s video! 

The January call will be on the 27th, come bring your own art project and visit with us on Zoom. See the Artventure Event calendar for info.

Color value scale

You can create a value scale in any hues. Be prepared that you might THINK a color fits in one slot but will need to be in another spot instead. If you label your swatches, keep them in an envelope so if you use those colors again, you’ll have the value scale handy.

Decide if you will WANT the full range, or stop one or two short. For my piece I didn’t want the REALLY dark darks.


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Apply the value scale

Once you’ve decided what the range is, get busy painting or drawing! Some mediums work best dark to light, but I find if I’m in doubt, starting light and getting darker is safer. Keep your scale nearby to compare as needed.

The palette

When Seth from FraNordHandmade on Etsy  asked if I’d be interested in trying a palette, I looked through the site…so many options! Different shapes, sizes, numbers of wells – tons of options. I had thought maybe the 6 well palette would be a little bit big for my sketch easel but not so much that it wouldn’t work. But once I saw it’s not just ceramic, it’s ceramic. Meaning a klutz like me will assuredly drop it on a sidewalk someday and shatter it. So it’ll instead stay in the studio, where it works great for using colors that aren’t in the big palette – I can squeeze out a little paint or create puddles with sticks, then wash it and be done. You’ll see it in an upcoming video since I found a great purpose for it!

One thing that does bother me a little is the handmade-ness means paint is getting stuck under the corners of the pressed-on wells. While I can run ceramic under the sink and clean that out, the feet under the palette are felt – anyone know what would happen to wet felt? How long would that take to dry…? I’d like to wash it then use it right away but I might not be able to do that with wet feet.


Mentioned in this video:

The watercolor sticks video

For your convenience….


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