Wednesday's class last week included a holiday luncheon at a nearby restaurant overlooking the lake. But before we left for lunch, we had time for a demo as well as critique time of works some of the artists had brought in from their studios.

This photo reference from our trip to Italy has several minor details changed to help improve the composition. The chimney was reversed and moved to the left to make the division of space more comfortable and the perspective seem correct. That roof line has been straightened, too, at the top and bottom edges. Click on each picture to see the details if you like.

There's 'junk' in the photo on the center right that's been turned into building surface, and the picture is narrower, with measurements that follow the golden mean and Phi.

Notice the distant hills and how that horizon line has been adjusted, too, to bring more focus on the buildings. Although I loved the palm fronds on the upper left, they were changed to repeat the look of the foliage on the right so they wouldn't draw too much attention. The long lines of the fronds seem to steal focus from the roof tiles.

All the planning ahead of time used to bother me because I wasn't painting. Now I relish the planning, organizing, and rearranging of the composition and enjoy having several future paintings in the planning stages.

It's rewarding to take a decent photo and try to make it better before painting the scene. (But it didn't used to be...it was a struggle for a long time.) Plus, all that time spent studying the photo and drawing helps me know the subject better. 'They say' the better you know something, the better you can paint it. They may be right.

This painting took less than two hours to actually paint. However, the planning and drawing involved at least six hours, plus it took a long while to fly to Italy to get that picture!

"SMELL THE CAPPUCCINO?" Transparent Watercolor on 140# CP Arches 13 x 19.5"


Joan Sandford-Cook said...

What an interesting post and a lesson in how to use one's photos for a painting without being slavish to its content. Dropping the mountain, moving the chimney, removing the tall fonds and getting rid of the clutter, all make such wonderful sense once you've told us ... but would we have worked all that our for ourselves - I doubt it. I loved the soft palette you used and the soft silhouetted figure.

Dawn said...

excellent lesson Sandy, thank you! And a beautiful painting.

Watercolors by Susan Roper said...

Wow Sandy! How timely is this message! I am being asked to help two mentoring students with a scene very similar to this, although from Norway (!). I love lowering those background mountains and it makes me feel so free to do that! I do see the value of doing that (that probably is a pun)and will do so in our photo. The alleyway, narrow street or whatever the thoroughfare is is much the same as your reference, but without the tile roofs. Wow, like I said. You are the best!

Dianne Mize said...

What a wonderful blog and what fine paintings you do. I just discovered you due to Ann Buckner recommending your blog on Empty Easel. What a find! I'll definitely be making regular visits.

MimiTabby said...

oh, I'm so glad I gave your website a second look. Your watercolors are gorgeous. I love the light in this painting and the pomegranates are wonderful! and thanks for commenting on my website as well.

trish said...

love your art! I'm trying to practice every day, right now drawing, but soon I want to start to learn how to paint-There's no classes or anything around where I live, but I see that you are in Ohio too-maybe someday I can make it to one of your classes, that would be so wonderful:)
have a great day and I look forward to visiting your blog again

Sandy said...

YOu definitely made it better!

Great painting.

Deborah A. L├ęger said...

Now, THIS is exactly the way I wish I could paint!!!!! I love it!