This is a very quick watercolor study I did this morning during a plein air workshop I was teaching in Clinton, NJ. I plan to use it to finish the acrylic painting I began as my demo. There are many things that can be captured far better with a study than with a reference photo.For one, you are forced to really study the subject if you are painting it rather than just snapping a photo with your phone. You get to know it’s proportion and gesture, you see colors that your camera or phone might miss. Also, if you are working quickly as I was here, you learn to grab only that which is important in order to capture the personality of the subject without getting bogged down in photographic detail.
Next time you are out painting and don’t finish a piece, try doing a quick (10 min. or less) study such as this one in watercolor. It doesn’t have to be large, just large enough that you can note what it is important to you about the subject. In fact, I think of my sketches such as this as visual notations to refer to back in the studio. I rarely take reference photos these days. I dislike working from photos and prefer to rely on memory and sketches such as this. I find the results are more unique, and truer to the way I see the subject.