Monday, May 23, 2011

All Keyed Up!

One of the Domestic Arts a 24x12 open studio by Shirley Fachilla

Yes, my subject looks quite calm, even serene, but her values are all high key. Please let me explain. First a definition of value: in art, value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color without regard to its actual hue. Think of a black and white photo; it’s nothing but value.
The value range here is all in the higher registers to borrow a musical term. There isn’t much dark; it’s mostly medium to light. That’s the definition of a high key painting.
The lightness of high key work often creates a happy, carefree mood. Impressionist Cassatt loved high key as did most of her fellow Impressionists. In fact, the lighter values of the Impressionists may be one reason why most people like Impressionist art.
It, however, is not my natural range; I usually like it darker with more contrast. (Dark with contrast makes for drama, often a very good thing in a painting.) But in this open studio session, I opted for the lit side of the model which was virtually shadow-free. I needed the challenge; I’ve painted the dark side more times than I like to admit!

I couldn’t let a post of a model knitting go by without a link to Vermeer’s Lace Maker bent industriously over her work, a figure with still life, all in less than 80 square inches!


  1. Hi Shirley, just finished reading about your workshop with Carolyn Anderson.....thank you for sharing all that you learned. Love the serenity in this painting especially the soft blue purples contrasted with the green. Great painting.

  2. I like the softness of your painting. Very nice!

  3. Beautiful painting. Great colors. I love the placement and softness of the edges.


Is it too early to send an invitation?

Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...