Lesson #5: Using value to create a mood

Part of the unit: Drawing a Figure in a Setting |


How can value create a mood?
Students will be able to:
Compare the drawing techniques of Seurat and White to determine how they created a mood.
Use value to create a mood.
Students will understand that:
Seurat created drama and mystery by using high contrast, a range of values, and little detail.
High contrast can create a dramatic mood while less contrast can create harmony and quiet.

Student sketches and photographs of a figure in a setting, ebony pencils or conte crayon, kneaded erasers


Two teacher-made sketches of the same subject with value used to create two different moods.

Charles White's Awaken From the Unknowing, and Georges Seurat's At the Concert Europeen.



Display Charles White's Awaken From the Unknowing, and Georges Seurat's At the Concert Europeen. The teacher creates a chalkboard outline derived from student responses to these questions:

  • How does Seurat's drawing technique differ from White's?  (lack of detail, use of high contrast, gradation, wide range of values)
  • How does Seurat create a feeling of mystery in this work? (strong contrast, lack of identifying features, abstract quality
  • White's drawing was done as part of an advertisement to promote reading.  How does White's technique contribute to how we feel about his subject? (lots of detail and facial expression, dramatic use of value)

Strong contrast can create a dramatic mood with a lot of impact on the viewer. 

  • How does using less contrast affect the mood of an artwork?  (creates a quiet and more harmonious mood)

Ask students to identify a classmate's work that seems to evoke a mood. Ask the student artist to discuss the mood he/she is portraying.

Before continuing to add value to your sketches, think about the mood you want to create in your drawing and decide how you will use value to create that mood.

Students will continue to work on their drawings. 


Look at the Seurat drawing you brought to class for homework. 

  • What is the mood evoked in the drawing?
  • How is that mood acieved by the artist?