Teaching the Elements of Art: Value

We first began to explore the elements of form and value by sketching a mug. Since we will be exploring value in greater detail in a later class, for this post I will be focusing primarily on how shading emphasizes value.

Our instructor encouraged us to gently hold our pencils for sketching because it opens up the creative side of the brain, while grasping our pencil tightly triggers the side of our brain that focuses on logic. For the sake of this activity we want to let go of our logical knowledge in order to more fully capture what we see. Therefore, rather than drawing the lip of the cup as a circle, we try to capture how it looks from our perspective (an oval).


Below, I’ve contrasted the perspective I had of the mug (left) with the perspective of my classmate, Josie (right). Her perspective shows a strange distorted reflection of the table on the side of her mug, which you can see in her drawing.

For our second value-focused activity, we layered some carbon paper on top of a piece of paper, then taped a printed version of a “selfie” overtop. Then we started to shade in dark sections of our picture using pen or pencil.


The imprint from our pen/pencil impressed our sketch onto the page via the carbon paper.

15008119_10157750059360387_1530638442_o14976306_10157750059415387_1828891767_oThe mentor artist I’ve chosen for value is Leonardo Da Vinci, in particular his works expressing movement.

LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519) A Study for an Equestrian Monument, 1488 (metalpoint on blue paper)

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