From sketch to finished paintings

This is a sketch I did onsite a few years ago in Avignon, France. I was quite taken by the tiny streets and alleyways and I found this car parked in a spot that seemed impossible to drive to. Somebody did though, and it made for a perfect subject matter!
The cat was not in the picture, I made that up to give it a little more life. Also, the umbrella on top of the roof was actually folded up.

sketch Avignon, 2011 by frankeber
This sketch was largely responsible for the success of this painting. Without it, I don’t think I would have been able to remember this scene very well. It was over two years ago. I did snap pictures, but that’s just not the same as having this precious ‘note’ of what this corner felt like when I was there! Taking pictures of scenes like this is tricky, they usually come out too dark or too light and a camera can never capture the mood of a place very well!

A sketch like this (it’s less than 6″ long and maybe 3″ wide) can be done quickly, if you have a
small palette and some water on hand. I use an old W&N travel palette, it even has a tiny tray for water and you can put it on top of your sketch pad, painting standing up. Literally anywhere, anytime. A true lifesaver when you just don’t have enough time to do a bigger piece!

I also do this method when I am not sure if a scene is actually worth painting. Doing a little painting like this takes all of 10 minutes and you immediately feel if it’s worth an attempt in a bigger size. The painting process is pretty much ‘alla prima’, meaning in one go. The upper left side is the white of the paper and the umbrella and the yellow building with the windows and some highlights is the first wash. I started the second wash on the upper left side and connected everything with the yellow background wash and the right side, all in one wash. You can actually see that I barely caught the pigment before it started to dry, it left furry edges!

The details like the car, the cat, the streetlamp and shutters are last

sunny corner, Avignon, 2011 by frankeber
Sunny corner, Avignon 7″x 18″

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4 thoughts on “From sketch to finished paintings

  1. May

    It is refreshing to see your notebook sketch with the final painting together, the process of a artist’s painting is as interesting as the painting itself. The bright blue sky darkens the alley; the white umbrella on top and black cat down bellow dramatize the narrowness of the street, the shadow on the building guides the eye to travel… Simple but so much to see. I love this piece and the story you told (from this small painting, I almost miss the cat!). Thanks.

    1. frankeber Post author

      that’s about the best analysis so far! You nailed it…as it is I just recently sold this. The cat was definitely an afterthought, but of course it serves as another lead-in. Thank you very much for your comment!

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