Light and Dark / by Jose Loza

Value Scale

Creating a Value scale will help to identify Value shifts on the still life exercises. It will also come in handy when mixing up larger quantities of paint for your containers.

What you will need:

  • 7 small containers with lid

  • a strip of (primed) foam-core 2" x 7-3/4"

  • black paint or primary colors Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Medium, and Cadmium Yellow Medium

  • White Flash card or scrap paper to test values

NOTE* Practice mixing your own black using only primary colors. The mixture is equal parts blue, red and yellow.  You have the option of creating your value scale with the black you have just made. Make sure to make enough in order to create the rest of your values. If time is a factor you can just use store bought black straight out of the tube.

Mixing Values

  • Divide the strip into 7 equal sections. The size of the strip does not have to be exact to mine but each section does have to be equal to each other.
  • Label each section 1-7 with #1 representing White and #7 Black
  • Start with Value #4, the middle value. Equal parts white and black . 50/50 ratio
  • Each section should be visibly different to the one before and after it. If you apply a value and do not like it, wait for it to dry and try again.
  • Values 5-6: Start with black and gradually add white to get the desired value.
  • Values 2-3: Start with white and gradually add small amounts of black for desired value.

Here is a video that might also help.




I just created a new video demonstrating the starting process of a monochromatic still life.
The editing is a bit rough but I hope the fine tune the process in future videos. I will be posting more information soon. Thanks!



  • Bring in at least 1 canvas 8" x 10"
  • Value Scale Swatch
  • Painting materials: brushes, water container, palette, pencil, rag, and paint.
  • Bring your 7 mixed values. If you did not have time to mix them, white and black will do.
  • This class we will focus on painting 1 still life for the duration of the class.
  • When you arrive grab and easel and setup your paint station around the still life.
  • Tone your canvas and let it dry
  • Take the first 5 minutes of class to create a couple thumbnail sketches and figure out your composition.