i think it always bears re-stating that values carry a painting. colors are nice......sort of like the sauce on a meal while the values are the "meat and potatoes." when a painting just isn't working for me, i almost always discover that there is a problem with interpreting and rendering the values. the problem sometimes comes in translating values to colors and vice versa. there are some gizmos that help in "seeing" values like a red lens or tinted viewer. one thing that i do to help in the interpretation is to work almost exclusively with black and white photo references when i am in the studio. this leaves only the reproduction of the desired values onto the painting. for this (and admittedly somewhat after the fact) i sometimes resort to taking a photo of a partially (or almost) finished piece, download it into i-photo, and change it to black and white.....voila a value study. this clearly shows me where the values are and whether i have rendered them the way that i intended.
in this cityscape the first time i thought that i had finished (or gotten pretty close to finishing) there was still something that bothered me about it. thinking it was the values i did take a photo and translated it to b+w. this showed me as the first pair of photos depicted below that the values in the mid-page were not strong enough (at least in my opinion).
so back to the easel and i added some darker glazes to the right mid-painting area. i also thought that the darks around the windows and doorways was too dark....so i lightened them. this resulted in the pair of photos depicted below.
i think it is better. what do you think? so, whenever you are in quandary about values this technique may help sort it out.