The Alphabet of Art
|| Resulting Attributes
||Dark and Light
Spatially in depth
Of all the Elements, Value is the most important in creating mood.
Motion pictures and television employ value to create the proper
mood for the story they are telling. For mystery, strong contrast
and generally dark value is used. For comedy, generally less contrast
and high values are used. For moods between the two, or mundane
scenes, medium values are normally used.
Rembrandt is the master artist of Value. He painted "The
Anatomy Lesson" with the light shining on the people in the
painting but originating from outside the painting. This creates
less than maximum contrast. Then, with the "Night Watch,"
he used light values for what he wanted the viewer to see, and
kept the other parts of the picture in dark values.
To create his greatest effects, Rembrandt ignored the usual way
of painting with the light coming from outside the picture, and
painted as if the source of the light was from within objects
themselves. Once he started this mental origin of light, it became
imperative to change the composition to show how the light he
was painting could be used to best advantage. In the "Night
Watch," he created a dramatic effect by the maximum use of
Value, in which the light comes from the figure of a child.
Rembrandt received his most lucrative commissions from the Guilds,
all member of which wanted to appear equally important in the
paintings. In the "Anatomy Lesson," the men are therefore
all painted in approximately equal value. But this is not the
case in the "Night Watch," where only a few of the men
are adequately illuminated.
Gray is the opposite of strong contrast in Value. Gray is used
to show distance, and to modify distant naturalistic forms, as
in Oriental painting. In interior decoration, gray can be used
to provide a more spacious feeling, especially when combined with
Maximum contrast of Value (dark and light) places objects in the
foreground of a picture. Minimum contrast (gray) places objects
in the background.
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