The other day I wrote about “Sight Painting“, a technique I use similar to a musian’s sight reading that allows me to quickly interpret and paint a scene. I guess the reality is not much interpretation occurs as I’m simply capturing the scene as quickly and accurately (value, color) as possible.

Here’re the 4 random images I selected from my digitial image archive. I displayed each on a TV in my studio. BWT, click any of these images for the full screen version if you’d like to see larger.


Reference Photos – Click to Enlarge

My first step was do paint a wash underpainting, using transparent pigments. I don’t focus on value to much or color accuracy, but just want to kill the white of the canvas and get some nice colors to shine through.

Wash Stage

Wash Stage – Click to Enlarge

These are the final studies. Again, didn’t spend more than 15-20 minutes on each. Thing big shapes, accurate color masses, etc.


Finished Studies – Click to Enlarge

I think I’m most satisfied with the bottom left image of Point Lobos, although in it’s current state I think it’s too abstract (you’re looking down from bluffs through Monterey Cypress at the white water/turbulence. Did you know what it was on first glance?

4 thoughts on ““Sight Painting”

  1. Hi Ed,

    I am intrigued by how you displayed your digital images on a TV screen in your studio.

    I know you are a Mac user…but could you explain how you do this. I have a G4 in my study….but in my “basement” studio (ugh…no windows) I have an older “inherited” Sony Viao laptop that I have been viewing digital images that have been altered in Photoshop (jpg files). I would love to just glance up and see my image on a larger TV screen…further away from the easel.

    We have long cold severe winters in the midwest, and this could be a great tool to keep painting through the winter months. It is too dark to go out after I return from work….and very few weekends are descent
    enouth to go out to paint.

    I love the idea that you are using this as a tool to quickly get down the shapes, colors and the essence of the landscape image in a short amount of time. Great “training” for the good months ahead! My favorite is the lower right…the tree lined road around the lake!

  2. There are two ways I project digitial images onto my TV. I can either connect my camera’s “video out” port or connect my Mac the same way, as it has a video out port. I had to order the cable for my Mac (as it didn’t come with one), but my digital camera (most do) come standard with a cable to connect the camera to your television. On my Mac, I use iPhoto to store my photos. Once they’re connected, you use either the camera controls–or the iPhoto on the Mac–to select images to display. If you use a Mac, I imagine you don’t neecessarily need iPhoto, as long as you have some way of selecting a photo and having it fill the screen.

    I’m kind of in the same boat. In winter–when I paint plein air a little less–I paint in my cold, unheated garage. At least it has windows…and I do have a small space heater, so it’s not so bad.

    Hope this helps! Happy painting.

  3. Hi Deb…I use cheap canvases for these exercises. Sometimes, I’ll even take an old study, sand it down (just to get rid of the ridges of paint, not all the color) and use them. In a way, that’s even more liberating because you really don’t care how it turns out. I’ve actually done some nice studies I’ve sold by paniting over an old painting. You can also get interesting effects, with the old colors showing through in spots.

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