View Full Version : An Adobe Cafe (demo)

Deborah Secor
05-17-2006, 04:01 PM
I took my class out on location last week to paint, so this week I'm going to take my photos and the color sketches done there and combine them in the class as a demo to show how to make use of the best of both worlds. I thought I'd post my photo and sketch here and follow up with the painting as it is now, and after I do the color work in class tomorrow.

I found a charming spot. Here's my photograph:

And here's my color sketch, which is on a piece of reclaimed Wallis, 9x12":
You can see my arrow in the upper right hand corner to tell me the direction of the light. I always treat these as nothing more than sketches to help me see the light and color. I probably spent a half hour on this one, start to finish, as all the little school kids trooped past and asked questions! (We were at the zoo and I think every teacher in the city decided to take the kiddoes out for the day, since it's nearly the end of the year. They kept asking me questions. My favorite of the day: how much will you get paid for that? That kid will grow up to be a gallery owner.)

This is my underdrawing, made with the photo and sketch at hand:
I largely relied on the photo for it's accuracy, although when it came to certain things I took what I saw from the sketch. For instance, I used a massed medium color fot the trees behind instead of detailing all those unknown thngs back there. I also decided that the tables and chairs weren't of any real interest to me and in the sketch I ignored them completely, so I added only hint of a table and chair under the most distant umbrella (and we'll see if it makes the cut!)

One thing I want to mention is that to begin with I did a rather detailed drawing uinsing extra soft thin vine charcoal, as always, of the one door with its dark windows and light framing. I then drew in the tree and erased out the door beneath. Then I drew the umbrellas and erased out the tree. Last I did the flowers (geraniums, I think--well, if not they are now!) Oh--by the way, I'll straighten up the verticals when I finish the painting. I can't draw a straight line! Yes, I use a ruler and a plumb line, but I don't stress about it until the end.

What I'd like to know is what you think needs attention. I don't want the drawing to be a perfect rendering of the photo, obviously, and I even hesitated to put the photo in here but maybe it will help you help me. What jumps out at you?

Thanks for your help! I'll put the next stage in sometime on Friday probably.


Deborah Secor
05-17-2006, 04:09 PM
Here's another sketch I did there. It's only 5x8", also on reclaimed Wallis.

And here's what it 'really' looked like:

This one I probably won't ever make into a finished painting, since I'm relatively happy with what I have.

Just thought I'd share...


05-17-2006, 05:16 PM
Dee, as you know, I hardly do landscapes - but I just wanted to say, what a stunning piece you have going here (in my humble opinion) .... a great demo, love the talk through and your thought process....... love your underdrawing... super.......... and just the hint of a chair and table.... perfect..... the introduction of the colours....... especially that wall....... superb!!!
...... and that bush........ WOW.... LOVE IT.... :clap: :clap: :clap:

The only thing that might need a slight adjustment or not...... is I noted the doors/french windows where they close - you may need to just hint the bar across at the top - as I did wonder at first what the thick post was beside the umbrella pole, as it didnt go all the way to the top, so then had to check your ref image to see what it was........ this probably becomes more evident when working, but thought I would just mention it :)

This is a Sure Fire Winner :clap:

Kathryn Wilson
05-17-2006, 05:49 PM
super dooper underpainting - that could stand all on its own, but you know I love color

As Dawn says, it is a sure fire winner.

05-17-2006, 06:04 PM
Here's another sketch I did there. It's only 5x8", also on reclaimed Wallis.

And here's what it 'really' looked like:

This one I probably won't ever make into a finished painting, since I'm relatively happy with what I have.

Just thought I'd share...



I'm a beginner in my old age and was wondering if you ever consider a sketch, like the wonderful one above, a finished, framable, salable work?

Thanks you for the lesson...I 'm learning so much here!!!

Susan Borgas
05-17-2006, 08:26 PM
Dee I wish I was one of those school kids that I could look over your shoulder. This is the next best place to do just that and I thank you for sharing. I am looking forward to your next update.

I love the light hitting on the bush in the second image.

Jo Castillo
05-17-2006, 08:47 PM
Anxious to see more. I like the chairs for a little diagonal movement.

David Patterson
05-17-2006, 09:07 PM
I always love your loose style Deb - Your bush is so colorful....I'll take it! :)

05-17-2006, 11:22 PM
Hi Deborah, thank you so much for sharing these with us, I feel like I am right there with you watching you bring this painting to life. I'm looking forward to seeing the next step. I like how you massed the background area with the trees instead of picking up all the rails, chairs, etc., and the light area on the tree above the umbrellas really seems to lead me into the painting.

05-17-2006, 11:51 PM

Thanks so much for the demo. I really appreciate this!! It is so wonderful to see your process. I would really like to learn from you how you even know what to photograph, what would made a good painting? I have a hard time with that. This is lovely. I realize, from your demos, that I never know what to take photos of. I can't wait to see this with color layers. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.

Deborah Secor
05-18-2006, 12:06 AM
Boy, Dawn, are you ever right! I need to tweak the door a lot. It's gotten wonky and that center post bugs me. Too light and weird that it doesn't go to the top. I think I can pull it off, especially when I get to the color...but you have a good eye. Thanks--a sure fire winner would be nice.

Jerry, I didn't say what I meant... What I meant to say was that I won't do another version of the bush because it doesn't need to be taken any farther. I would sell it as is, and often do! I suspect I might tweak a couple little spots and frame it...

Thanks, Susan. Glad you're watching--we can paint together any time you're nearby! :wink2:

Mmmm, I guess the chairs would add a little more diagonal... I'll consider that, Jo. Thanks.

Sold, David--or did you just want to TAKE it? LOL (kidding...) Thanks. Glad you like it.

Paula (pjo), you need to come and paint with us again! Yep, simplifying things is so important. I couldn't get all that stuff in there if I tried! Thanks for your encouragement, and I really do hope to see you soon.

Shari, I really don't think my photos are all that great.:confused: I take a lot, though, so I have a lot to choose from, but in this case I chose the spot while out on location and then photographed it, of course. I guess it all just takes time and experience, doesn't it? That and a liberal hand on the saturation button in Photoshop, which helps!

Thanks, I'll keep you all posted when I have more to show.


05-18-2006, 07:44 AM
Hi Deborah,
I like the way you have just hinted at the chairs, as painting all those would drive me crazy:evil:
Are you going to keep them very loose, or develope them more?

Bhavana Vijay
05-18-2006, 08:11 AM
Deborah, thank you so much for the demo.I love the color sketch.Its so fresh and exciting.

and I even hesitated to put the photo
I am so glad you included your photo!It will be wonderful to watch how you develop that into a beautiful painting, meanwhile i will keep staring at the color sketch!:)

05-18-2006, 09:30 AM
The demo is terrific. I always love watching you work through your paintings.
I love that bush with the sunlight. I am amazed you were able to get that from the photo.


Deborah Secor
05-18-2006, 10:26 AM
Tressa, I don't know about the chairs. I don't think it will be all too detailed, but I'll see!

Bhavana, I just don't want to be enslaved to the photo, but I DO use it, so I wanted to show it. I hope everyone is seeing that the photo is not the goal, just another way to plan and think. That's why I decided to show it to you, so you can see how I chose things from the photo and from the sketch, for very different reasons. Both are tools to be used, but neither one is meant to be a finished product! Thanks--glad you're enjoying watching.

Thanks, Sandy--but remember I painted the little bush on location from the real thing, and just snapped the photo as a record in case I wanted to use them both for a painting done in the studio. It just happened to work out as a finished painting this time. (But it probably wouldn't have if I'd been thinking I HAD to make it a finished painting on location, if you know what I mean. I find I get all tied in knots trying to paint what I see if I think it has to be 'right', but if I loosen up and just let myself record the fun stuff while i'm out there, it sometimes works out really well--and if not, I make it into a finished painting later. Win-win!) One of my students said to another, "I don't see what she sees..." LOL I guess I do bring a lot of color to 'seeing'!

I'm off to class to paint this one. *Must remember to take my camera!


05-18-2006, 10:43 AM
Enjoyed looking at your studies ...very nice! Also it's nice to hear from a pro about the use of a ruler and a plumb line...I always seem to draw my verticals from left to right and end up having to listen to wife about how slanted everything is.
Also....I find I get all tied in knots trying to paint what I see if I think it has to be 'right', but if I loosen up and just let myself record the fun stuff while i'm out there, it sometimes works out really well--and if not, I make it into a finished painting later. Win-win!) This is so true for so many!!

05-18-2006, 11:29 AM
Thank you so much Deborah!!! I am finding that the more I learn; the more there is to learn! I am following with interest and when you showed the actual photo of that shrub/bush - LOL - I am thinking why on earth would she even spend her time painting that?!? and yet your "sketch" is lovely!

Merethe T
05-18-2006, 03:40 PM
Thanks for sharing Dee, there's always something to learn from your work, and I love reading your thoughts. Love the colours in both paintings, you make it look so easy! Hope you'll show us the finished work of the cafe...

I have to comment the bush, I love it! Awsome light, really make me see that I need to be bolder with my darks to really make the highlights pop....

05-18-2006, 05:24 PM
looking very good !! .... love your step-by-step details ... will be watching ...

Deborah Secor
05-18-2006, 06:18 PM
Mike, I had to laugh. I spent years hearing from my husband about leaning sideways to view things! He finally convinced me that I needed help, so I learned how to use the plumb line. Just this morning he handed me a T-square that I didn't know he had, so maybe I can figure out how to use it, too. I suspect it will require me to align the painting with my board, but then I guess I could always make nice striaght plumb lines on the edge and just cut it so that it all lines up, now couldn't I? (I can hear him groaning in the background! We just don't think alike...)

Barbara, I hear this from my students all the time. "Why would you even stop to look at that, let alone paint it??" I guess I've just learned to see the colors I want to see! (Deluded but happy? LOL)

Merethe, one of my sweet, generous students gave me a set of Diane Townsend darks and it has made a world of difference! They do pop the light, don't they? That dark green is a MUST-have, and don't you love that luscious dark blue that's above the bush? I love her colors.

Hi Violet--many thanks!

Okay, I did a demo in class today and one of my students took a couple of progress shots, so as soon as I get them I'll post here. Tomorrow I should have time to shoot a photo of the second layer so you can see that. It usually takes me three passes over a painting (of this kind) to finish it, sometimes more.


Deborah Secor
05-19-2006, 03:03 PM
Well, I don't have the in between photos yet, but here's how the painting looks after my second pass...
You can see that I lowered the doorway, since it was inexplicable as it was. I'm a little happier with it now, although it still looks a bit wonky. (What a useful word!) I see that the verticals all need to be straightened up, especially the line to the left side of the tree trunk. You can see I sketched in some chairs, which I rather like, so I need to decide if they're the right scale. They may be a bit wimpy in size! I'll mull that over.

I'm open to any comments you have, of course. Please understand that it's still in progress. The whole thing needs work--more detail everywhere, more color work, just a couple more passes! I long to get the shadows on the wall...

Oh, and the wall in front is NOT that red. Don't know if it's my photography or the red cast in WC. Once I get another pass done I'll take a more accurate photo.



05-19-2006, 03:21 PM
Its looking great Deborah and I'm so glad you posted the ref pic because now I can see how useful it is to simplify things. I know I would have tried to put every pane of glass in those French doors and it would have probably ended up taking away from the whole. Also, I am so glad you did not take offense to my remark about you wanting to paint that bush! Glad to hear I am not the only one amazed at what you can "see". I should be so "deluded"!:D

05-19-2006, 06:16 PM
its coming along lovely Dee, especially like those shadows ontop of the Sun Shades - I think the line of the French Doors appears more wonky, enhanced by the curve of the tree trunk
You can sense the heat ....... will look forward to further updates

05-19-2006, 06:42 PM
Deborah, Thanks for the demo, I will be watching and learning. On the color sketch, you could probably straighten some of the verticals and frame it!! Love your work. Sharon

05-19-2006, 07:09 PM
I love your style;) the second pass painting looks great, colors and light is wonderful! There's no way I can't paint that loosely IMO, I'm too much of a neat freak:) Love the shadows on the shades. Does the one on the far left need a little highlight maybe? Thanks for sharing your demo;)

Kathryn Wilson
05-19-2006, 07:20 PM
Waiting with baited breath . . . guess I'd better breathe inbetween versions, eh?

Deborah Secor
05-20-2006, 09:12 PM
Yep, Barbara, simplfy!! It really is so important, isn't it?! I sold that painting of the bush today to one of my students...

Dawn, that wonkiness is certainly enhanced by the curve of the trunk. I'm thinking about relocating it over so I solve that whole mess, but we'll see.

Sharon, I might be able to finish it with a little extra effort, but I'm probably more likely to use the paper for another painting. :wink2:

Nico, I'll probably add some highlights to the distant umbrellas, but I started with a cool pale green and haven't quite gotten to that point yet. I don't want the farther ones to get too light too soon.

Breathe, Kat, BREATHE!


Hmmm, if you can think backwards, here's the first pass of color:

Just so you don't get confused, I'm putting them all in as thumbnails in the correct order, since I jumped the gun and got them out of sync!
2-color sketch on location
3-underdrawing in charcoal on Wallis
4-first pass of color
5-second pass of color


Mikki Petersen
05-21-2006, 12:07 AM
Ooooohhhh! New Mexico! This is so New Mexico! And so very Deborah too. I'm glad to hear the forwall is not that red. I'm thinking it needs to be way cooled down because it is such a strong horizontal mass as it appears here. I love the tree and the building is great. Those chairs are well placed but do look a tad undersized at the moment.

Funny thing about the leaning verticals...I can keep them pretty straight in my paintings but I almost never take a photograph where the horizon lines up horizontally which throws everything out of kilter.

Looking forward to progress on this one.

Deborah Secor
05-21-2006, 07:32 PM
Thanks, Mikki! :wave:

Here's my third color pass. I think it still needs a few tweaks, minor stuff mostly.


You can see I added a line of grass in the background that gives a secondary horizontal mass to it. Those chairs are still only charcoal. Still thinking.


Merethe T
05-21-2006, 07:44 PM
Oooh, I love this!!! What a warm, inviting scene!! I'm so fascinated by the shadows playing on the umbrellas, than my eyes get drawn to the beautiful flowers, than to the chairs... Love to see your work prosess too, thank you!

Mikki Petersen
05-21-2006, 07:47 PM
Oh WOW! This is looking so yummy! I think the grass line was a touch of genious. The chairs my be only charcoal, but al least in this image, they look quite finished, like wrought iron. "Course, you are looking at the real thing.


Jo Castillo
05-21-2006, 08:31 PM
Deborah, very nice. Makes me homesick for NM ... and Albuquerque. There is a nice Italian restaurant at about 7th and Central that has a great patio, too.

05-24-2006, 08:53 PM
Incredible demo. I think each stage was a work of art in it's own right. I like the sketch as it was and would hang it as it stands! Near finished piece is stunning. Thanks for the lesson.


Deborah Secor
05-26-2006, 04:42 PM
Okay, how did I get 'unsubscribed'? Ooops, I wasn't. Just goofed. :o ANYway.....

Thanks Merethe. I love your description of the way your eye travels over the painting. I think I need to strengthen the chairs, which remain in charcoal at the moment.

Mikki, that grass line looks a bit wonky, touch of genius or not! :rolleyes:

Jo, I'm trying to remember which restaurant you're thinking of... Well, I don't get out much--just to the zoo!

Thank you, Ronda. I'm glad you've enjoyed seeing the step-by-step. I'm often encouraged to sell my drawings 'as is' but I seem to want the color. I did teach a drawing class and found out how little I know!

I haven't gotten back to this one yet, but I often think time away tells me more than looking at it, so I'll post a final-final version sometime before long... It still needs a bit of 'spark' to make me happy.