To me, study painting is the process of copying or replicating a subject with paint or sketching, in a quick way that still captures the essential expression. It could be of a photograph, a famous painting or just some stuff on a table. Wikipedia describes study paintings this way:

“In art, a study is a drawing, sketch or painting done in preparation for a finished piece, or as visual notes.[1] Studies are often used to understand the problems involved in rendering subjects and to plan the elements to be used in finished works, such as light, color, form, perspective, and composition.”

Study paintings force you to go deep into subjects. You’ll have to consider all the details as well as the main features to be able to recapture the subject as realistic as possible. I’m particularly talking about composition, ratios, colors and above all, lighting and shadows. The rewarding part of the study painting process is that it does not take a lot of practice before you experience an Aha-moment and feel very proud. It’s also probably the best way you can learn and train yourself to become a better painter.

1. Pick a subject

Remember: Overlays are not allowed.

For this study, I noticed some fancy lighting reflecting on our table in the living room. I wanted to see if I could replicate it in a painting.

I always start by adding color to the blank canvas. I don’t like painting directly on white, as it should be white that should be prioritized for the absolute brightest spots in painting.

2. Create the wireframe and basic structures

3. Block out the main structures and objects

4. Add light and shading

The “Dodge” and “Burn” tools in Adobe Photoshop are great options to accomplish lighter and darker areas.

5. Experiment with filters, color, cropping, etc.

6. * Optional - Overlay the original to verify how close you got

Closing notes:

I use a Wacom drawing tablet and Adobe Photoshop on the Mac.

The “finished” version took about 1,5 hours to do.

Thats it for now. Paint more and show the work!