The ability to see tonal ualues accurately is the single most important factor in watercolor painting. An untouched sheet of paper has just two dimensions, height and width. Our job as artists it to give the illusion of a third dimension, which is depth. This can only be achieved by thinking about the tonal value relationships.

It makes complete sense to produce a black and white sketch to work out the tonal values of your painting, even before you get your paints out. You can then start the actual painting with vastly more confidence, having already solved half the problems. At the same time you can make the design changes needed, eliminate unwanted details and build up a sense of drama. This sketch is of tremendous importance because it is the complete guide to your finished work. In it goes your entire thinking about what you wish to accomplish. A really good tonal value sketch can fill you with excitement and a real desire to paint, in color, the scene you produced in black and white.

Yesterday and Today, Padua, 15 x 22" (28 x 56cm)

Painting on site may sometimes be more difficult than in the quiet of the studio, but can produce a more vibrant and lively painting. This one is dominated by the magnificent ancient architecture, which contrasts with the bustle of modern traffic. The cool gray of the columns on the left balances the warmth of the buildings across the street, while the light and shade provides drama throughout.

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