Scroll down a ways and you'll find the Ireland images we were using in class. You can drag them to the desktop and print them individually if you want.
If one of them engages you, use that one for this exercise. If not, find something from your own sources that you'd like to paint.
Start by considering what looks like it will be hard to translate gracefully. For example, when I assess my readiness to paint this scene, I come up with some unanswered questions.
I like the way the buildings look like part of the landscape, as if they were outcroppings of rock. I wonder if that feeling might be better represented by a gloomier sky. The blue might be making the whole scene too cheerful.
I also wonder if a broader context might enhance the feeling that the shapes grew naturally from the
ground. Should I widen the format and include the edges of the buildings? Or, maybe just on one side?
How can I find answers to these questions without committing to the time and materials involved in making a full-fledged version of the possibilities?
First of all, I think it best to take on these questions one at a time.
For the sky question, I can cut a piece of paper to the shape of the sky and paint it all brooding and grey. Then I can just set that on top of the blue and compare. Take it off, put it back. off, on. That should provide an answer pretty quickly.
The compositional questions can probably be answered by making a thumbnail sketch in either paint or pencil that shows the edges of the buildings on both sides. Then I can cover one side or the other to see what difference it makes in the feeling. Five minutes!
Often just articulating the question provides an answer, and no study need be produced. I may also learn something surprising from making a very quick study. A rough sketch often has a freshness that a thorough interpretation lacks, which can inspire me to keep the proper painting simpler than I might have otherwise.
Try the process for yourself.
1) Assess your readiness. Ask what looks tricky?
2) Identify the nature of an unanswered question. Is it about value, color, wetness or composition?
3) Devise a study that will quickly provide an answer. Keep it so simple you can't get all wrapped up in particulars.
The best way to find out if something belongs in the painting is to leave it out of the study. If you don't miss it, you don't need it.