How to Begin Your Painting Starting with it’s First 3 Color Values

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Painting with first 3 color values

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It is important to think of value first while you are painting. Doing so will help you to be able to create a believable sense of light in your paintings right from the start. One of the best ways you can achieve this, is by thinking in terms of color spots.

The painting demonstration in the video below, will show you how to start a painting with three color spot values. That represent a strong intersection of light, medium and dark values in the painting subject. You will then see how to continue working your way through the painting (from these foundational color values) so to truly achieve a realistic sense of light!

Hit the play button directly below, to see how to start your painting with 3 color values!

If you want to go further with the subject from the painting demonstration in the video guide above. You can follow along with the full sunflower painting tutorial, here.

Love to hear from you about your success or struggles with creating a realistic sense of light in your paintings in the comments below!

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    16 thoughts on “How to Begin Your Painting Starting with it’s First 3 Color Values”

    1. I am Mohammad from Iran Ms. Larson Kohler: You have explained the content beautifully and in the best way, you are an energetic and excellent artist. Thank you for sharing art education and enjoying the art of painting. Long live Elizabeth Larson Kohler, the popular artist, always be successful and happy.❤️

      1. Hello Mohammad, Thank you so much for your kind words. Am very glad to hear that the information on this website has been very helpful for you! Thank you for sharing that. I wish you much luck in your painting journey.

    2. This tutorial was such an enlightening example & explanation of “3 color values. Loved the use of paint & palette knife! I am fairly “new” to oil painting and love your advice & tips! Thank you 😊

    3. Thank you for the informative tutorial on painting with 3 colour spots. I felt the palette knife blending was new to me. I use acrylics and water colour. I may need to use a medium to give the paint the flexibility of oils to use this technique.

      1. You are so welcome! Am glad that this was helpful for you. Yes, there are a few different mediums out there you can use with acrylics to make them stay wet longer so that you can blend them more with a palette knife.

    4. Thank you for the reminder , it is how i start most portraits and landscapes, finding the place to start is sometimes difficult and this feature helps solve the problem. Regards Warren

    5. My goodness at first I didn’t think that I will see a sunflower here. I am so surprized! It looks very difficult but the endresult is beautiful. Well done!

      1. Thank you! Yes – when thinking and working in terms of color spots the painting often doesn’t ‘look like anything’ in the beginning but then (hopefully most of the time!) it comes together beautifully in the end because the values and colors are orchestrated well together.

    6. Frits Keulers

      Dear Elisabeth,
      thank you again for the very interesting video.
      Can I use the 3 colorspot way for a the paintings, also for landscapes?
      A also very good trick is to use your paletknife to softenup sharp edges.

      Sending you a lot of creative greetings from the Netherlands.

      1. Hi Frits,

        Yes! You definitely can use the same method for landscape paintings! When starting a landscape painting with 3 color spots it is usually helpful to think of them as ‘bands of color’ due to the nature of landscapes!

        Glad you enjoyed the palette knife trick – it is enormously useful!

    7. רותי כהן

      אליזבת יקרה
      קראתי בעיון רב את ההדרגה לציור פרח חמניות בשימוש ב3 צבעים ולקבל את הצבע המאיר
      ההדרכה וההדגשה בשימוש הצבעים המתאימים מסייעת בערבוב צבעים להשיג את הצבע המתאים
      הדרכה מעולה
      אנסה לצייר את הפרח ולהגיע לצבאים המתאימים בהערכה רבה
      באהבה
      רותי כהן

      1. שלום רותי יקרה,

        אני מאוד שמח שזה עזר לך! החל מכתמי צבע קטנים יותר של שלושת הערכים העיקריים (ערך בהיר, ערך כהה וערך בינוני) עושה הבדל עצום. זה מאפשר לך להשוות בקלות רבה יותר צבעים וערכים אחד עם השני מההתחלה. מחכה לראות איך העבודה שלך מתפתחת! איחולים חמים, אליזבת

    8. Thank you for your tutorial on values, I always enjoy your insights on technique, composition and color mixing.

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