1. I selected this candid photo which I took in a caffe. I found this scene compelling because of the warm colors surrounding the girl contrasted with the light and cool colors surrounding the man. I have desired to paint a cafe scene for quite some time.
2. Next I drew a rectangle in my sketchbook in the same proportions as my canvas and gridded the rectangle into thirds vertically and horizontally. This helps in placement of the figures and making sure that the focal point is in a visually appealing location. I skethed the scene in pen and ink in order to eliminate any unnecessary details and to translate the image into three main values--dark, middle tones, and light. You may use pencil or charcoal for the sketch and you need not include as much detail as I used.
3. You may notice that I moved the teapot and sugar bowl in order to create a small still llife in the foreground and to add ambiance to the scene. I moved the figures closer together for more implied intimacy. I decided to include more of the paintings on the wall behind the girl and in the mirror because I thought the images were interesting and the colors related well in my composition. Notice how the diagonals of the tables lead the eye into the scene. I used the same gridding technique with watercolor pencils on my canvas to help with the transfer of the drawing onto the canvas. With all major decisions made before I picked up my paintbrush, the painting proceded smoothly. Here is the final oil painting.
Tavola per la colazione, oil on linen, 9x12, $500, Gallery East
I encourage you to begin to turn your favorite memories into attractive paintings by following these three steps.