Eight values of art

This is my first proper art lesson with Colin (find out who Colin is here). Well actually it’s my second. In the first one we discussed so many things so quickly and so excitedly that we didn’t properly track what we were learning.

But that first hour I spent with Colin was magic. I learnt more in that hour than I probably learnt in three years slaving away for a biology degree. Well, I learnt more interesting things which fascinate me.

I feel like we’ve peeled back a blanket and peeked for a second into a new world. I am hungry to learn more.

In no particular order Colin says these are the values:

  1. Line
  2. Composition
  3. Form
  4. Tone
  5. Space
  6. Colour
  7. Scale
  8. Size
  9. Movement (Colin thinks there should be a ninth)

“There are no boundaries,” he says as he sits back in his chair and tucks into a delicious double chocolate cookie (Lidl bakery and still warm in the middle). “There are no boundaries in art – or life. You need to find your own way.”

When I arrived at the studio Colin was just finishing listening to a programme on Radio 3 about Gerald Scarfe and his unflattering depictions of Churchill. He recounts what Scarfe says about style – that you don’t have one, you just are. It turns out that Colin has driven Scarfe’s Ferrari around some Cornish lanes after they ‘got chatting’ at a Cornish hotel.

We move onto Harold Rosenberg (I’d never heard of him but I’ve since Googled him and he’s an art critic – well he was an art critic). Anyway, the things to learn from this art supremo, Colin tells me, are that when Rosenberg was asked what he looked for in a painting he said:

  1. What is the artist trying to communicate with the onlooker (the message, what’s in the artist’s gut)
  2. How does the artist do it (his method, medium, materials)
  3. What is the chemical reaction between the onlooker and the painting (what does it make them feel?). Colin explains this as coming away from looking at the painting with a feeling/connection that the painting ‘talked to me’.

He sends me home with homework. I’m to draw a loo roll and a tennis ball. Colin will critique it (harshly, he says) when we next meet.


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