Class DemoThis demonstration was to show the process I use to get from, in this case, a photograph to a finished painting. The top image shows the photograph I was using as reference. In the pencil sketch below that, I have sketched things pretty much as is - because I have to start somewhere. I'm keeping in mind the reason that I have chosen to paint this subject - the cluster of buildings and their rooftops, and the lights and darks of the sunlight and cast shadows.
The porches and roof lines on the left really complicate things and don't do anything to support my reasons for painting this. So I play around a little with removing the jumble of shapes on the left, and move on to a value sketch (figuring out my lights and darks) which is shown in the lower right of the top image. This is what I use as reference as I paint. I don't refer to the photograph again.
Eliminating some of the porches and roof lines has changed the "reality", but what I wanted was the "feeling" of the roof tops and shadows. This would never make it as a commission or a rendering of the actual scene, but we all have artistic license, you know, and we should use it. It's fun!
Value sketches can be done very small - a couple of inches square with no detail - just shapes to show light, middle and dark values. If you make them small enough and simple enough, you can do lots of them in a short time to play around with all kinds of combinations of lights and darks until you hit on the one you like. Once you've planned your lights and darks, your painting is half done. The process is pretty painless.