Contrast + Value

contrast in color

Recently, I have realized the importance of understanding art’s basic rules and concepts. Moy Keightley, artist and author of “Investigating Art”, has inspired many hands-on mini-projects to practice these core values.

This week, I’ve learned how appropriate use of contrast and value allows me to control visibility, attention and emphasis. The mini-project I took on was the “Colour Patchwork”.

I blocked off 2×2 inch squares and filled them with various colors. Keightley encourages sole use of primary colors, but I ventured off into secondary and tertiary. Muaha.

The intention of color placement was to let each color touch every other color if at all possible. This would allow me to compare each set’s contrast and value.

Now, contrast is the result of placing two different values near one another. Black and white provide the strongest contrast. Oh! Also, pick out two opposite colors on a color wheel. They will be each other’s strongest contrast available. I spent a decent amount of time hurting my eyes with extreme contrasts on this color wheel.

value and contrast in b&w

Value is the amount of light or darkness; a visual image would be a scale from the whitest of whites to the darkest of blacks. To understand this thoroughly, I scanned my “Colour Patchwork” onto the computer in black and white.

My Momma said she imagined the blue (second row) would have more value in comparison to the green on its left. Though, when she reexamined it in black and white, she saw differently.

This makes me want to create b&w copies of artwork I like and evaluate my use of contrast/value in my own creations. I’ve also noticed these concepts play a part in whether or not a photo is visually pleasing or “eye candy” as we call it around here.

Now to be observant for hours on Instagram…


  1. tcmullinax wrote:

    Love this! In college, we had almost the same assignment-I didn’t “rebel up” and use my sec and tert colors, tho. Livin’ on the edge, aren’t ya?! ;)
    Enjoy your weekend!

  2. Momma wrote:

    Still lovin’ that top shot. On another note, we need to get your room painted.