Monday, April 2, 2012


 Working from a photo for me is a process of evolution. Unfortunately, I find it easy to get lost in that “process.” I must keep reminding myself what I want the painting to be and not become lost in the techniques of turning a photo into a painting.
I decided to share my steps of working from a photo in this post.
Here’s the reference photo:

First, I sketch to create a composition that will work in the dimensions I’ve chosen for my canvas. For obvious reasons, the sketch, done on any handy scrap of paper, is for my eyes only.  

This time, because light was the true subject of my painting, I also needed to design my pattern of light and dark. Eliminating color from the equation, I used a small canvas in the same dimensions as my final piece to establish light and dark rhythms.

Then because color harmony was lacking in my specific photo reference, I added color to my small piece to resolve color issues.

Finally I did it big (well, bigger) and of course, made more alterations. For instance, I changed the old-fashioned wooden seat of the diner to unify my two figures. I did so hate to lose that old-fashioned booth!

Lunch in Thomaston, Maine is an 18x14 oil by Shirley Fachilla.

Lunch in Thomaston Maine is on view along with a bevy of other paintings by my friends: Jean McGuire, Gale Haddock, Jean Gauld-Jaeger, Pat Mayo and me at the Tennessee Art League, 808 Broadway, Nashville, TN in our exhibit August in Maine. If you’re near, come see!


  1. WOW !!!!! Awesome painting ! I wish I had painted it !

  2. J'aime voir la progression d'une peinture... merci de nous montrer cela. Une très belle harmonie de couleurs...
    Gros bisous

  3. Thanks for showing your process, very interesting! I love the final painting!

  4. Fascinating progression from beginning to end. So interesting to see the changes you chose to make. Though capturing the light was your goal, I loved seeing how important the colors became. Nice how your lost edges give so much movement, too.
    Btw, the waitress should be very flattered.

  5. Loved seeing your process. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Fabulous piece of certainly created light here ! I enjoyed reading and seeing your process, thank you|

  7. Fantastic moment in time. Your light is lovely. Thank you for showing us your process! Very inspiring.

  8. Loved seeing your steps to this beautiful painting, thanks for sharing!

  9. Hi Shirley, Somehow I missed seeing this one. Fabulous! And thanks for showing the process. I've realized just this year how very important sketches, even tiny little thumbnails, are to good composition. Yours is instructive on how it can be helpful with light as well. Thank you! Love this painting!

  10. Brilliant, Shirley! I loved seeing your process!!!
    I have so much to learn.
    Thank you for organizing the new Chestnut member paint out yesterday at Cheekwood. I
    Had a wonderful time and was so inspired by all of you!
    Christy Buckner

  11. This is my first visit to your blog, but I will be coming back a lot! I love the way you capture light and color, and the soft quality of your work is so beautiful!


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Pieces by (clockwise from left to right) : Susan Harlan, Janet Garner, Shirley Fachilla, Mike Martino and Topper Williams. So many ...