Values is a term in art that describes how light or dark something is. It refers to the grayscale value of a color.
How light or dark something is is one of the primary ways our visual system analyzes the visual world around us. It’s how we recognize something as a shape or an outline and it clues us to understand it as an entity.
In visual art it is a primary tool to emphasize and de-emphasize elements in a work of art. More specifically than value, it is the contrast that is used to make something stand out or disappear. When you start paying attention to how it is used in art, some of those lovely paintings and the way they were composed starts seeming very deliberate and not so random. It is not just that an artist gets an inspiration and an idea of what they want to paint, it is also that they then spend time composing the values of the picture to make the theme or subject of their painting stand out. So much so that in some cases it can almost seem shamelessly composed, yet seem entirely coincidental, unintended and realistic. Continue reading