I spent about three days on this lesson - Tonal Values. First I needed to draw out each of these tangles and shade them. Then I played with them. Seeing the tones within each one. How they worked as a group - shown below - to move your eye from dark to light.
Notice how in the first image there is one value that is out of order. You notice it right away. In the second image the tangle has been moved to its correct position and now the tones flow from dark to light.
|tonal values are not flowing|
|tonal values flow nicely. The eye doesn't get stuck.|
Now let's take a look at what a tangle with only dark tonal values looks like. In my opinion, it's dark, grounded and doesn't feel like it has any light or movement. It feels very static to me.
Notice how this one feels more balanced to the eye. We have a mix of tones.
This one is also balanced. We have a dark tone, a light tone and a couple of mid-tones.
This next one is all mid-tones. Notice how it feels blah. There's not the same movement of your eyes when you look at it.
But when we add a dark tone and a light tone to the same group of tangles - now the eye moves with more grace from one tangle to another. If this was my tangle, I would definitely add less shading to one of these to create more contrast to the shades. It still feels very blah to me. But my style is a much more light and airy one. I love adding movement and organic character (which are light tones) to my tangles.
This last one is the second Zentangle I made when I was first beginning this journey into Zentangle in Dec. 2014. You can see how the tonal values are balanced (although now I would have done a better job of shading).
And in this ZIA (Zentangle Inspired Art) or Tangle (either term is correct) (below) you can see how, within the swirls - the tonal values change and bring the eye around the image. So even within a very airy, organic piece, there can be darker tones to help create the flow our eyes desire.
If you want to learn more about how to create a more balanced piece of art, pick up Beckah Krahula's book or you can take a class with me. I'm taking my training in April 2015 to become a CZT and will be teaching in my area ((Burnaby Mountain, SFU) Vancouver BC Canada). If you want a private lesson with me, we can even do that via Skype but lessons in person are always better. To find an instructor in your area please check out the list here.