"Afternoon Pause" 1980 by Robert Maniscalco

“Afternoon Pause” 1980 by Robert Maniscalco

Sometimes Having Strong Values Means More Than Just Being a Nice Guy*

Sometimes a value that appears to be correct in a painting is anything but.  You’ve got to know and understand how light works on form if you want to make your paintings look lifelike.  Excellent values are what make a figure look like it’s going to climb out of the painting if you keep staring at.

It involves understanding relative values.   You have to really understand and segregate each light source.  You must know that a reflected light must stay in the range of the shadow.  That captured light can be no lighter than the darkest light.   That to get form in the shadow you must go darker.  These are not empty platitudes, or rules to be ignored, because we’re artists dammit and we can do whatever the hell we want!

Values can be learnedThis knowledge is not a talent from on high.  You’ve got to open up your eyes and see.  Then open up your mind and think.

I did this painting when I was twenty years old.  I guess I’m old enough now to brag about how dedicated I was to understanding form.   I’m impressed not at how “talented” I was when I was young but how hard I worked at understanding values, right from the start.  I was very clear about what I needed to do in order to get my painting to the level of making enough money to put me through music school and become a professional artist.  But as it turned out, I wasn’t as clear about what it would take to be a professional musician!  The rest is history in the making, as it were (is).

Of course, I was extremely lucky to have a great teacher in my father.  He passed on the secret knowledge to me and I’ve been shouting it from the housetops ever since.  A lot of people have now mastered these methods, many of my students have gone on to much more illustrious careers than mine.  Believe it or not, this is one of my greatest sources of pride.

I guess my point is that if you need a gentle, knowledgeable teacher, come take a class.  And bring some Addivan.  😉

* Don’t worry, just because I’m ranting doesn’t mean I’m not a patient, kind and open-minded teacher or artist.  Rigidity, the delusion that there is only one way of doing something, is not my way.  For those of you who were disappointed this wasn’t a rant on “family values” or “Christian Values” or some other kind of values, please accept my apologies.  Maybe next time.


If you like/don’t like or want to add your thoughts to the conversation, I encourage you to comment.  Also, you may want to get a copy of Point of Art – Second Edition, or download it today.   I offer career coaching for those serious about a career in art. Don’t forget to check out  The Portrait – a painting video  and The Power of Positive Painting

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