From sketch to painting

With cold and grey weather outside I thought it might be a good idea to catch up on some indoor stuff. I started by doing a long overdue cleanup of my studio and then moved on to a project that has been on my to-do list for some time. Last year I did a sketch of Ken (see below), the owner of the Rockport Lobster Pool, waiting outside his shop for a shipment of fish to come in. The colour scheme was influenced in great part by the yellow lobster traps and the colour of his apron, and it was created as a practice for my workshop at the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Barcelona. I showed the sketch to Ken before I travelled home, but couldn’t leave it with him since it was in one of my sketchbooks. I left Rockport with a promise to return in 2014, painting in hand.


Here’s the final painting. I used the same triad of colours as I did in the sketch (Azo yellow, Alizarin Crimson and French Ultramarine) and tried to keep yellow as the dominant colour. I also wanted to maintain the strong pattern of repeating shapes (triangles, squares) contrasted with the strong verticals of the utility poles. This was painted wet-in-wet on a sheet of Saunders Waterford CP, 260 lb, 10″ x 12″.




15 Comments on “From sketch to painting”

  1. marctaro says:

    Hey! Great news for Ken – a present coming his way 🙂 It’s neat to see how much the sketch comes through – remarkably similar, while improved at the same time.


  2. liz bundle says:

    Oh this is lovely! Oh it looks so welcoming! I LERV yellow! So upbeat…tho I read somewhere that loving it could be an indication of mental instability cf Van Gogh. yikes. Was it morning sun? Imagination? I actually prefer the sketch…oops.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Miz Dee says:

    I suspect there was one happy Ken to receive this!


  4. timdada says:

    I am amazed at how great a watercolorist you are. And that you post wonderful examples every day. Inspiring for sure.

    And I believe watercolor is the most difficult medium to paint in if one agrees that white is the substrate. It’s very easy to make highlights in oil, acrylic, even pastel when that rule does not apply. The mental preplanning for watercolor is beyond “challenging”. At least for me.

    Anyway, a humble thanks from we who appreciate.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Tim. I haven’t had much experience with oil or acrylic and even less with pastels but I have done hundreds of watercolours! You are so right about the planning in watercolour. If you decide in advance where those light areas are going to be you can paint around them. That’s why the sketch is so crucial but I don’t always do it in colour. Sometimes it is just a quick pencil thumbnail or I do it in Payne’s gray.


  5. TonyU says:

    Hi Shari. What a stunning piece of work! And to my eye and preference a little stronger and more vibrant than the original sketch. Puts me in mind of Frank Webb (helped by subject matter and wet in wet style) …. and compliments don’t come much higher than that. Hope Ken appreciates just what a great painting he’s going to get. Best. Tony


    • Thanks so much Tony. I studied with Edgar A. Whitney many years ago. Frank Webb also studied with him and subsequently I also took workshops with Frank. I learned wet-in-wet technique with both Ed and Frank as well the principles of design in painting that both of them teach. I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to work with them and even though this was many years ago what I learned has stayed with me, especially the importance of the value plan.


      • TonyU says:

        What wonderful teachers you had Shari … and your work does them proud. I have lots of Frank Webb’s videos, but haven’t been able to get to grips with a true wet in wet style – must put more time for trying on my ‘to do’ list. Also Ron Ransom’s excellent book on Ed Whitney’s methods and ‘disciples’. Have you by any chance ever met either of the two Tony’s …. Couch or van Hasselt? Two of the ‘disciples’ and painters I greatly admire. Best. Tony


      • I haven’t met either of the Tonys but I certainly know their work. If you want to try wet-in-wet I will tell you how I do it. I draw on my sheet, then wet both sides completely, and I mean dripping wet, with a natural sponge. I put the sheet on a piece of plexi, cut to a little larger than the paper size. Then I roll up a clean towel and roll the sheet to take off the surface water so that the sheet is damp but not dripping. It can’t be glistening at all. Then I paint. This painting stayed damp the whole time I painted on it. Because you have taken off the surface water you can still achieve very sharp edges. I used big flat brushes for this. The only thing tricky about this is knowing how much water to have on your brush. Each successive wash should be a little drier so as not to create blooms, which happen when wet goes into damp.


      • TonyU says:

        Thanks for sharing this Shari. I think I saw you post something similar when you were walking Marc through the process a while. But I’ll make a note of it this time and will definitely be giving it a go. I’m sure others will benefit from seeing it again too.


  6. tmikeporter says:

    It would be very helpful for you to demo this approach in the Seattle workshop. I too have read all the books on this method and practiced some but need more help with it.


  7. Robert Cox says:

    Wow, those are both great. The yellows in the topmost caught my eye, first. It’s been years since I painted, I ought to do it again. Acrylics. –Robert


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