Black and White Studies by Janet Jaffke

Recently I’ve been wanting to work on some quicker pieces that allow me to experiment with basic design fundamentals like composition, value, line etc. This past week I wanted to practice the idea of creating variety using black and white. I started by layering all different kinds of dark marks and washes using acrylic paint, paint markers, sumi ink, black pens and pencils. Then I started adding layers of white paint in different transparencies in random fashion followed by more layering of black. I also added layers of line work at each stage.

It was a fun exercise. I could see some of the darker lines and shapes showing through the white as well as areas where the white blocked out all previous paint. By doing this process I noticed that I was able to see clearly the values or “lightness and darkness” of the varying layers. It’s a visual skill I’m trying to strengthen, so, in addition to playing around with the idea of creating variety, the bonus was that I now have a deeper understanding of how to work with value in my paintings. Now I need to try a similar exercise using color to continue to train my eye the same way.

Some of the experiments from this series can be found on my Sketchbook / Studies page.

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