From Sketch to Finished Painting

My painting process starts with some sketches to consider my composition, study my subject and refine my ideas about what I want to express.

“Strand at Sunset, Dunmore East” focuses on the drama of the warm evening light on the cliff face, the deep shadow patterns, and the directional force of the tide pools and banks of seaweed, drawing the eye into the distance.

The light is changing fast, so I start with a reference photo

A quick sketch in pen and ink allows me to study the rock strata and the shapes of the seaweed masses

And a “notan” drawing in three tones – black, white and grey – to simplify the pattern of lights and darks

Watercolour sketch using Inktense blocks

Oil Painting Step 1 – simple outline and placement of light and shade

Step 2 – blocking in main shapes, loose brushwork at this stage

Step 3 – adding texture and detail with the palette knife

“Strand at Sunset, Dunmore East”, Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 cm


  1. Ann Graham

    Thank you so much! Fantastic. Are you putting this on a Facebook site? Going to paint Plein air with Grahame booth on north Antrim coast 1-4 July – watercolours. Based in portballintrae. Ann graham. Sent from my iPhone



    1. Hi Ann, thanks for your comment. Yes, this blog post is on my Brenda Malley Artist Facebook page. Have a wonderful painting holiday!


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