Red Horses, Green Fields, and Why Artists Have to Lie

Horse In Field

Horse In Field

I wrote in my Valentine post that I’d exaggerated the values in that drawing. Drawing in gray scale requires a bit of reality manipulation sometimes because many colors are the same value. For example red and green are often the same value. (Value means lightness or darkness.)

One summer morning a few years ago, I looked out our kitchen window and my eyes scanned the green scene with pleasure, then I did a double take. Standing there in the middle of our lawn was our neighbor’s horse! He’d escaped from his field and was happily munching away at the clover in our yard. I didn’t see him at first because his red coat was the same value as the green lawn and foliage that surrounded him. I’m sure that particular shade of red evolved to help horses blend in to the scenery, and it works!

Anyway, when drawing in gray scale we can’t draw a red horse standing in a green field exactly as it looks or the horse would disappear into the value of the field. The solution to this knotty problem is to lie. Well, just a little bit. Depending on the mood I wanted to create, I’d draw the horse lighter or darker than the field. To do that I’d need to adjust the “key” of the value scheme.

And since this post is leading me into pastures I didn’t intend to graze, I’ll talk about what “key” is and how to manipulate it in a future post. :)

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About Carol

I'm an artist, an accidental author, and lover of life. I grew up in Yorktown, Indiana, and I've been writing this website since 1999.
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3 Responses to Red Horses, Green Fields, and Why Artists Have to Lie

  1. CCC says:

    I’ve been looking through quite a few of your lessons and other pages. I spent 4 years in a fine arts program at university and have learned more from you in an hour. Thank you so much for sharing your techniques. I would recommend this site to anyone who wanted to learn to draw. I think you’re wonderful.

    • Carol says:

      Thank you very much CCC. I started putting together these lessons about ten years ago because it seemed like a good thing to do, and now it’s grown into a true passion of mine.

  2. Joanne says:

    I just came across these right now.. Your very talented.. I’m going to be studying these lessons to get back into drawing :)

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