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Painting Gray Values

Painting a gray scale or monochromatic color is a wonderful exercise to train your eye to see the subtle differences in grays from white to black. It sounds relatively easy to mix black and white paint with eight steps of gray from lighter to darker in nice even, increasing increments. However, it entails a little training and practice.

Painting Gray Monochromatic Values


Draw a grid of 1" boxes with 10 boxes across and 7 boxes down on a piece of canvas from a canvas pad. Using white and black paint create 10 values in increasing steps from 0% (white) to 100% (black) with eight distinct gray-scale values between as shown in the example below. Mix each gray value on a paper palette and not on the grid. Once you have mixed the value starting with the lightest gray, apply it to the grid and then mix the next gray value on the palette and apply it, and so on until you have successfully completed a gray scale. It is important to create this gray scale accurately as you will be using it in the next lesson, Color Values.


Below are examples of paintings that have primarily gray scales - monochromatic color.


Pablo Picasso ,"The Kiss," 1969.


Edward A. Burke,  "Plastic Sea," acrylic on canvas, 80 x 60 inches.

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