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For the outdoor painter, scene selection is a critical starting decision. Here is another example of how to narrow down your scene and select one you feel is a good composition, including some elements, and simplifying and eliminating others. 

This scene is at Kahaluu Beach. I had an unusually sized canvas at 4 inches by 12 inches so needed to really study the scene to make this work. It took me three thumbnail sketches to decide on the one I wanted to do.


To the right is the scene from where I sat across the bay at St. Peter's church. As you can see, this is a lot to work with. I realized to keep to the 4x12 proporrtions like this image is similar to, I'd have to include a lot of sky and water, too much.

I narrowed down the scene to this next area. I liked the edge of the green roof on the left, and wanted the pink roofed building at the right, and the life guard tower. The condo behind the scene had to go as it took away from the scene. Also, the trees were too tall for the scene so I shortened them to fill the top edge of the painting, and used about a dozen trunks versus the many more here.


This is the simplification process. You can't and don't want to include everything or you might as well just take the photo and not bother to paint. My goal is to have the "sense of place" so the viewer can say, I remember that location, but I also want to take out unneeded elements.


So, select the best parts, and emphasize those, and leave out the rest that gets in the  way. I eliminated the second green roof behind the center one as these triangular roofs are nice elements but one is enough. The pink roof on the right had nice light on it so I wanted to emphasize that too. The green roofs, the orange lifeguard hut, and pink roof are the main elements, and the orange and pink are complementary colors so glow against the green trees in the background. I also moved the left green roof over to the edge of the rockwall as I wanted these closer together and to show more beach. Here is the final result.       

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