While brewing my morning coffee I glanced outside and saw
a sunrise today that deserved to be in a painting. A thin sliver of moon was
still visible among the treetops in the distance, and a stunning array of
colors glowed in the sky.
My iPad was handy and I raced outside to grab a reference
photo. But when I saw how washed out the photo looked I knew I had to do
something to capture the scene more accurately. My palette of oil paints was
still loaded with fresh paint from a workshop I taught last evening, so here’s
what I did.
I quickly printed out the iPad photo, then I began
applying oils paints directly on that printout. Within minutes I had locked in
the actual colors that were there. Painting directly on the printout saved me
the time and trouble of carefully drawing the scene, and I was able to go
directly to the important part: capturing the colors accurately.
This is something I’ve shared with students in my
workshops. You can use this idea to efficiently explore color schemes for an
important studio painting. First, you sketch the composition. Then print a
number of b/w photo copies. And then paint directly on those copies. This
avoids the need to redraw the composition each time you want to test a new
When you find one you like, use that one as reference to create
the actual painting. That’s what I’ll do with this quickie study of this
morning’s sunrise. I’ve locked in the look of the scene and I can now take my
time in the studio to do a careful full-size painting on canvas or a hardboard
Hope you find this useful. And I wish you a colorful day.