Color gets all the credit,
but value does all the work
I'm not sure who gets credit for this quote. My research shows that it's been used—in various forms—by several people. The idea itself is probably centuries old.
What does it mean?
We all like color. It gets our attention. It revs our engines. It affects us in subtle ways.
- But without value, color loses something. We want to see lights and darks and in-betweens. Maybe it's more than a "want." Maybe it's a need.
- We can interpret this idea with slightly different words: Color needs value, but value can stand alone.
Take a look at these examples. On the left is the original painting, and on the right is a re-colored version with the same values. See, colors don't really make much difference, although the warmer colors evoke a different mood.
Below is a monochromatic version of the same painting. Note that the values still define the shapes. This monochromatic version still works.
Outdoor Umbrellas: Harbor Town, South Carolina
by James Stephens
Copyright James H. Stephens
All rights reserved
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