The Painting Process

This approach should accomplish a number of things for you, not the least of which is that it will help you FORGET YOUR PRECONCEIVED NOTIONS ABOUT YOUR  SUBJECT AND GREATLY REDUCE THE TENDENCY TO COPY EXACTLY WHAT YOU SEE (OR THINK YOU SEE).

 Even if you are not working in watercolor – a medium that is somewhat difficult to correct – it is a good idea to plan your composition before starting the actual painting. The planning part of the process involved creating small studies of the composition with value only at first, and then with color. 

 Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Decide on the scene or subject you want to paint.  It is nearly everyone’s impulse to get out that large sheet of watercolor paper, draw the scene on it and begin to paint.  Unless you are on location doing sketches and studies of a the scene, this is almost always a bad idea!
  2.  Explore the subject with value thumbnails. Make sure to create large value shapes and making sure the eye-catching contrasts are in the right places
  3.  Once you’ve made at least a few thumbnails, look at them and ask yourself if they are focusing on your main subject and saying what you want to be said.
  4.  If not, go back to step 1!
  5.  If so, pick the thumbnail that says it best and do some color studies – here’s where you can say the apples are VERY RED, but make sure the RED is the value you defined in the thumbnail sketch.
  6.  Is there a color study that focuses on your main subject and says what you want to be said.
  7.  If not, go back to step 4!
  8.  If so, enlarge the drawing to painting size, and do the painting.
  9.  Make sure to refer to the value sketch and color studies as you work your way through the painting.