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I have some innate feeling that all my pieces must have a really dark color and a really light color in them, it has to have a near black and a near white, is that a bad thing? Can a piece still work if closer to grey? Or should you try to stay towards either the darks or the lights?
-Insert intelligent comment here-
It seems like it depends on the effect you’re trying to achieve but I’m exactly the same way. I think it adds depth to your image and your image has more of an impact.
This is exactly what I do, but it didn`t quite hit me until I just read this thread. In my portrait parts of the face which are brightly lit are usually completely white, while I know now that`s quite impossible (unless your subject is an albino, and even in that case I`m not quite sure) I still do it!
For some reason it just makes it look better. This is probably a matter of personal taste though.
Veni, vidi, vici.
It depends on
(a) The local values of the objects in the picture,
(b) The lighting and atmospheric conditions,
(c) How you choose to modify these for pictorial effect.
So sometimes a high contrast solution will be exactly right for a certain picture, sometimes it will be totally wrong. Look at paintings, photos, and especially movies and see how different value structures are used to tell the story.
let me break it down like my art teachers and professionals ive met have told me:
the lightest light in the drawing is white.
The darkest dark is black.
The midtones realte to these extremes.
I have great faith in fools. My friends call it self confidence.
It all comes down to what you wish to achieve. For me, high contrast goes in the same category with too many highlights -- just enough can make a piece come to life, but too much contrast or highlights makes my work look gaudy and mechanical.
Also, in painting skin, I rarely see a value that is pure white. Even highlights are not just white. Cerulean blue comes in handy here. (There are exceptions of course, like style -- like using the white of the paper in watercolor or ink)
It is important to remember that everything is relative; your values should be adjusted so that they are in relationship with each other.