Below is the value study as I left it. Now that it’s dry, I can start correcting.

I thought it’d be interesting to look at the photo of my original conception of the composition back from when I set it up and see if I captured the feel of it in my study. To do this, I edited my photo of the set-up to be black-and-white, and compared them. I don’t expect or want my study to look exactly like this photo, nor will I paint from it, but in a general sense, I liked this composition, so I’ll see if I’d like to make any changes to my study to be more like it.

Above, you can see the photo. Comparing it with the study, above it, and allowing for the glare off of the study, which makes it look paler than it really is, I can see that the scarf had more darks and highlights in the photo. I like this look better, as it gives more interest to the scarf. I also like the way the bottom of the vertical box on the left is darker in the photo. This seems to bring the attention upwards and inwards. The black bows were darker. too, which I also like. The lightest whites in the lamp shade were lighter in the photo. I think that this puts the emphasis on the lamp, which is what I want. I found that I didn’t like the position of the lamp cord on the right side. It led the eye out of the composition and didn’t seem to relate to any other lines. I re-painted it in a more pleasing arc, similar to the one in the photo. Finally, I noticed that I liked the darker tabletop in the photo. I think that it draws the eye more to the scarf and lamp

Above, I’ve painted in these changes (though I still need to make the tabletop darker). I’m happier with the composition now. Note that my goal wasn’t to make my painting look like the photo, but rather to see which value patterns better served my composition. It turned out that the photo had some very pleasing value patterns. There are parts of the photo that I don’t like as well, so I won’t simply try to make my study look like the photo. I’ll make whatever changes I need to achieve that. I don’t have a problem with altering the reality of the set-up to further a good composition. My goal is a great composition, not a faithful adherence to reality. An artist’s job is to improve reality!

Though I will never paint from a photo, I have no problem in using them to help judge a composition. One of the main reasons that I paint these value studies is to judge the composition (which is easier without the distraction of color).

Now that I’m happy with it, I’ll un-tape this tracing paper study from over my drawing, and then make some final corrections in the drawing. After that, I will transfer the drawing to my canvas.