It was when I began studying with John Phillip Osborne that I really began to understand the value of the value scale (gradations from light to dark). When looking at a landscape there are so many objects, forms (like leaves on trees) and how does one begin to capture it all? Reduce everything down into just three values. Use a red glass or red cellophane to see value without color.

You will notice three values dominate... LIGHT (shapes massed together in sunlight). MEDIUM (the areas between the sunlight and shadows) and DARKS (areas in shadow). See below.

By looking through the red cellophane outside at a landscape, the scene is reduced into three separate values- LIGHT, MEDIUM, & DARK. If you first find the horizon line and divide the scene into two values, the light and then everything else, you can create a notan- simple black and white (two values). The clouds in this case are made into a third value slightly darker than the light value. They are not quite a medium value but are not as light as the light so I've made them separate because through the red tool, they appear darker than the LIGHT.

I have chosen a simple scene to assist you in learning this concept.  I've made the black and white sketch below quickly and as simple and dramatic as possible.

Did you see the distinct three values when looking through the red glass? I have drawn them here in this quick 30 second sketch.

Osborne spoke of triads, three of them to be exact.

He suggested we use a nine step value scale as opposed to the ones that offer more.  His teacher was Arthur Maynard, and his Frank Vincent Dumond. It is my belief that I heard that this concept was handed down to them over the years because it simplified the approach when learning how to capture the myriad of values . The first triad must be mastered before moving to the second and third triad. I have also developed a simple system to create a value study and then a color study. (See this in the article about the next two triads.) Register below to receive the next lesson.

Nine step value scale.

In this black and white version everything below the horizon line moves toward a dark value mass because as the sun sets, everything goes into a silhouette on the land making it simple to see it as a darker value.

The sky in light is painted as a LIGHT value initially. I've massed the cloud patterns as a medium value giving you three distinct shapes in the three different values of the first triad.

Next, I started to play with the size of each mass slightly allowing a dominant shape and value to appear.

By increasing the medium value so that all three values are not of. equal importance as they appear to be in the above scene the composition of my painting is improving a bit. In the finished piece (pictured in the next lesson and also on my home page) you can see how I have furthered this mission by playing with this concept of dominant value and shape even more.

Fill out the form below to learn about the next triads and see how this painting was improved.

Here is the first triads painted in color. All colors have value but that is a different lesson. I am not done yet with this painting. Look for the finished painting in the next lesson.

You will notice that there are a variety of colors and some value changes in the Light, Medium and Dark value shapes. I've moved on to the next triads.  To receive an email explaining the next triads, click here and tell me what stage of painting you are in: Beginner, intermediate or advanced. A Value Finder (red cellophane and with the value scale) is included in the gift bag when you take any of my classes or workshops.   I'd love to share with you what was passed to me from the masters who I studied under by sending you the next lesson.  Learn more about upcoming workshops. Click here.