Tonal Value

We learnt about tonal value in class today. A few of the things we learnt reminded me of a sketching class I took last year at a retreat centre, soon after I went into transit. It was this question about “Value” (aka Tone) that triggered it:

“If you took a black and white photo of your picture, what shades of grey would you get?”

Gave me much food for thought. As with last week’s lesson, it had little to do with improving my pastel skills but more to do with how I walk everyday. I’m not good at distinguishing tones in a picture. Dark usually just looks dark to me – I can’t see ‘dark’ vs. ‘lighter-dark’ vs. ‘darker’dark’ all too well. But when the same picture is in monochrome, the greys are quite apparent.

I face this tonal parallel in everyday life. Life, in all its colour, can sometimes confuse me much. What is the right and good thing? From whose perspective? Is there a right time, right ways?… However, held up against God’s Word, I can more easily see where the blacks are, where the whites are, and the merciful shades of grey between that I’ve experienced as “free will”, “joyful surrender” and “God’s sovereign grace in action”.

We also learnt that tonal contrast helps us to show depth in a picture. Things that are nearer to us are darker and sharper; things that are further from us are lighter and less focused.

That’s true about life too. Think about looming deadlines, overwhelming mountains to climb, vivid memories of recent events – whether they brought us pain or pleasure… versus the blessings down the road, joy in the morning when the night’s weeping is over, new friends we have yet to meet and make… and of course, the Ending that has already been written. That’s not to say we should live life only in lighter tones, soft focus and insulate ourselves from dark shades. If we did, then where would the depth be??

Tonal Value – very valuable indeed!


More coincidences with JAA. We both chose to draw macro shots of flowers, and later found out our birthdays are just days apart!



About lilac butterfly

Live. Love. Learn. Laugh. Write. Draw. Colour. Blend. Play. Dream. Cry. Reflect. Pray. Sing. Worship. Bake. Cook. Rest. Give thanks.

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