Lesson: Counterchange

Lake Sunrise, Mixed Media, 10.5 x 8.5
Lake Sunrise, Mixed Media, 10.5 x 8.5


Assignment #5:  Landscape Value Exercise Using Reflection.   In this assignment, the value system, counterchange, plays a major role.  Simply put, this term means that a darker object is placed directly next to a much lighter one, or vice versa.  The assignment is about creating atmosphere, not capturing intricate details.  In combination with the use of counterchange, show your color values by having them reflected in a water situation, a lake, river, wet beach or mirrored in glass.  Starting with the lightest color tones, simultaneously keep your attention on the darkest color values and create the perfect balance this atmosphere requires. – from Braldt Bralds

The Process:  After wetting the paper, I added a light wash of Cerulean blue to the sky and foreground and a separate wash of Aureolin yellow just above the mountaintop and reflecting in the lake below.  When these washes were almost dry, I added washes of orange and Alizarin crimson to the sky and lake, allowing some of the washes to blend together.  Next, using Payne’s grey, I built up several layers of color in the mountain range and its reflections in the water.  After re-wetting the blue areas of the lake, I added washes of Payne’s grey, allowing the colors to blend.   Using a Kalinsky #1 brush, I added dark strokes of Payne’s grey and Indigo, with touches of white goache to create the wetlands in the foreground. 

The Critique:  This work is successful in creating a mood – an atmospheric landscape – by incorporating a full range of color values with the darkest darks set against the lightest lights.    

Lesson Learned:  Juxtaposing different values – deliberately placing light objects on top of dark ones and dark shapes on top of bright ones – lends visual excitement to a piece.  In this painting, the shapes of the mountains and tree line are silhouetted against a light background for dramatic effect.


For more information on counterchange, here is a useful video, a workshop by Paul Taggart:  http://blip.tv/art-workshop-with-paul-taggart/painting-topical-tip-by-paul-taggart-counterchange-5436754


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Comments: 2
  • #1

    Jayne levant (Sunday, 19 May 2013 10:02)

    Brava! Great blog with lots of imagination..can I take lessons ?

  • #2

    Jean Schroedl (Sunday, 19 May 2013 10:43)

    The Lake Sunrise piece of Bonnie's took my breath away. The scene is dramatic; yet serene. My favorite.

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