For as long as I can remember I have heard how beneficial doing pencil sketches, small thumbnails or color studies can benefit my work. But thinking I know better, I skip ahead missing these important steps.

Now I go back to these most important steps in developing a painting and find out how beneficial they are to my final painting.

Woman with Basket, 12 x 16 inches, oil on canvas

Woman with Basket - Study, 6 x 4 inches, oil on canvas

Woman with Basket Study, 6 x 4 inches, oil on panel

Woman with Basket, 12 x 16 inches, oil on panel

It is a delicate balance between understanding aesthetics, composition and details. Every concern pulls you in a different direction. Balance is important in life and painting.

My inefficient process was that when I get involved with the idea of the finished painting I rush toward the details, many times forgetting some of the more important items like composition, design, and color flow.

All of these can easily be worked out in preliminary sketches and very small color studies. It actually takes some of the anxiety out of the painting process by not having to do all of this the first try, or having to balance all of these decisions in my head when I leave down each stroke of the paint.

I find I am more comfortable spending time on my painting knowing the direction provided by preliminary painting development. This work helps me to figure out things that I would have normally missed. Subtle adjustments done instinctively to forms in the rough would never had been seen when I get overwhelmed and caught up with detailing an intended direction of a finished painting.

One big thing I have learned, I am not sure why this has taken me so long, is that every painting I do is not worth keeping. Most are for learning, others mistakes, once in awhile I find one that I really like for some unexplained reason, but all lead up to a better understanding of my trade.

The painting shown here of the woman and basket was developed from a photograph, pencil sketches, color study shown here and final larger painting shown here.

© 2011 Daryl Urig