Value Exercises from Paul Foxton

I’m signed up for
Paul Foxton’s

Threads community and we’re tasked with doing daily value exercises. I’m committing to a value sketch every day for two weeks. Here are the first ones. They’re quite challenging to do. I’m trying to get the right value on the first try and simplify the values where possible.

Self Portrait with the Newton Watercolor Society

Self portrait. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 14”x11”

The Newton Watercolor Society has been having zoom meetings where we paint for a couple of hours and then meet up and show what we’ve done. Great fun and it gets me to do things that I don’t usually do.

This week was self portraits. Eeek. Haven’t done one of these since I started painting again so it was going to be interesting. Came out ok – not a great likeness and insanely flattering but there’s some good work in there.

Progress shots:

Drawing and initial washes. Warm in the center and moving out to cool at the edges.

Slightly further along. Struggled a lot with the shadows. The photo could have had stronger side lighting but looking at my side lit face for two hours is not a happy prospect.

The final thing with the photo. After some hairy moments especially with the mouth it came out ok. I should do some more of these definitely. Maybe not self portraits though.


Rooster. Michele Clamp. Watercolor 11”x14”

Deceptively tricky this rooster. A lot of color but not a lot of value changes so I had to introduce more to get the form of the body. Fun though – the colors came out well and the final result has a lot of life and character.

Some intermediates :

I first mixed up some swatches after matching to Munsell chips. Everything is pretty low in value – highest is a 4 which was surprising.

Next the drawing. Careful comparisons across the body both horizontally and vertically to make sure everything lined up. Where possible I use negative shapes to get the right angles.

The first washes. I toyed with the idea of just painting the whole thing in one layer but finally plumped for putting in a light under wash of the main colors and intentionally went outside the lines into the background. When finished this layer is barely visible but gives some visual interest and some depth to the final picture.

Half way through the second layer here. I’ve kept the eye and beak areas clear as they go in at the end. The tail feathers have to go in pretty much in one go – if it goes wrong you have to live with it. Worked out this time thankfully.

The final thing. Pretty handsome I think.

Sunflower Workshop

Sunflowers. Michele Clamp. Watercolor. 11”x14”

Phew! Another video lesson this afternoon and it was pretty intense. Flowers are tough at the best of times and require a huge amount of concentration. I’m exhausted! Everyone did really well – congrats to Cathy, Meredith, and MaryJo!!

Mine came out tighter than I would usually do but for me that is always the case when talking through a painting. I may touch this up and finish it off later.

If anyone is interested in joining me online for zoom lessons there are more signups available at
Post Road Art

Paint along with Gary Tucker


Gary Tucker kindly ran a free online 2 hour workshop today. I found it challenging to say the least. I gained a lot of sympathy for my students as it was difficult to concentrate on what he was doing and his vision and also manage to paint a decent painting myself. Had a lot of fun thought and managed to make some progress with those wretched trees.

Here’s the reference photo. I had to dig deep to get inspired by this – another problem with trying to get inside someone else’s head.