I’ve always loved the amazing difference in mood you can create by changing the values in a quilt. With the help of Photoshop – take a look at the following possibilities:
The landscape on the left suggests a fairly bright summer’s day with a cheerful mood; simply reversing the values gives a much more mysterious scene…the illuminated trees against the distant dark hills! And of course with 4 values there are 4 x 3 x 2 = 24 possible arrangements just of value alone in this little sketch. (Try it if you don’t believe me!!). And that’s just using each value once.
Here’s a little cityscape with the same two sequences of value:
Again, the arrangement of values alone creates a very different mood and sense of place.
I looked back at some of the quilts I’ve made to see what happens when I reverse the values (and the colours) – this is a lot of fun!!! (in Photoshop: Ctrl-I is the magic word).
On the left Heavy Metal as it exists; I’ve slightly romanticized the colors and the silvery reflections on the lake; on the right the manipulated version betrays the reality of the nasty acid effects that power stations can have on our environment. The image looks so much starker but I love the bold harshness of those colours.
Now look how much more menacing this image looks if I desaturate the colour and increase the reversed value contrast.
But what happens if I simply reverse those values?
We’re back to a rather magical scene! It’s the values that count.
What’s so fascinating about values is that it’s not only the top to bottom arrangement (as it were) but the use of higher contrast in values in some areas (the focal area) versus low contrast in supporting areas. As human beings we’re prewired to be attracted by high contrast, so it’s always a good idea to save the highest contrast in a piece for the area you wish to bring out in a piece.
In the quilt on the left Chimneytops (now happily in the Thomas Contemporary Quilt Collection) notice where I’ve used the greatest contrast? Yes! That little window…when I photographed this scene from Whitby in Yorkshire I was thinking about how neat it would be to live in that house and have a studio in the little attic room with the dormer window looking out over all the activity in the old fishing town!!!
This is just really describing the tip of the proverbial iceberg (alas probably melting!) in terms of what you can do with value. That’s why I think it’s so important to know what you want to convey with your art quilt and to have a firm grasp of how you can do that! It’s not by chance that value is valued!
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!! Elizabeth
PS I’d love to know what you’d like me to discourse (i.e. witter on about!) upon!! All comments received as rain showers on a hot summer’s day!