A Peek Inside: Laural's Painting Process


I get asked a lot about my process of painting my artwork, so I am going to explain my overall process. Painting either plein air (on site) or in the studio, both require a plan. Every artist has his or her individual steps to completing a painting and many are similar in some respect. I have an overall approach when I am painting, whether I’m in the field or in the studio. I always start with a preliminary sketch. In the field, this is usually small, two to three inches, referred to as a thumbnail in which I incorporate four main values. The reasons for these sketches are two-fold. One, I want to establish a good composition. Second, I want to see the value structure, which in turn helps me to see if the painting will read correctly. Without good value structure and composition, a painting lacks visual impact.


Once I have a good thumbnail sketch, I can proceed to my actual painting. Since time is of the essence in Plein Air, the preliminary sketching helps me make good decisions as I paint, as I have a “plan” to work from.



Small Value Sketch

© Laural Koons


I get asked a lot about my process of painting my artwork, so I am going to explain my overall process. Painting either plein air (on site) or in the studio, both require a plan. Every artist has his or her individual steps to completing a painting and many are similar in some respect. I have an overall approach when I am painting, whether I’m in the field or in the studio. I always start with a preliminary sketch. In the field, this is usually small, two to three inches, referred to as a thumbnail in which I incorporate four main values. The reasons for these sketches are two-fold. One, I want to establish a good composition. Second, I want to see the value structure, which in turn helps me to see if the painting will read correctly. Without good value structure and composition, a painting lacks visual impact.


Once I have a good thumbnail sketch, I can proceed to my actual painting. Since time is of the essence in Plein Air, the preliminary sketching helps me make good decisions as I paint, as I have a “plan” to work from.


In the studio, I sometimes add an additional step. Once my four value sketch is done and I feel like it will make a good painting; it is time for a small color study. This painted study helps me work out color and drawing issues, which means I won’t have to spend precious time once I start the final painting.



Old Point Comfort Lighthouse 6x8 Study

© Laural Koons


My process is slightly modified for this project:


This project involves both Dawn and I going to our chosen locations in Virginia. We are accessing the specific sites' views, and making decisions based on our impression at that time. Once we’ve looked around and taken in the setting, I begin photographing views that represent my personal impression. At home, after going through and narrowing down the photographs; I make several small four value sketches in the same ratio as the finished painting. This helps me to determine the best composition and overall impact of the scene. It’s with these small sketches I can adjust the composition, if needed, in order to convey what I’d like the viewer to see. My aspiration is to bring the viewer into the painting and lead them to my focal point.


Once the final sketch is complete, I proceed to the color study and then the final painting. When the painting is done and signed, I will put them in frames and attach a copy of my impression on the back. In the upcoming posts, you will see images of the stages from site photos to the color study with a little history of each location.


I'll hold back the final pieces as I wouldn't want to spoil the show!