Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso | Color Sketch and Finished Painting

I find that creating a preliminary color sketch is one of the most useful things I can do to prepare for paintings that combine several compositional elements. In the end, I save time using these small sketches to work out questions or doubts concerning color, composition, value or anything else that could affect the outcome of the final painting. Also, having a small model of a larger work is reassuring, and looking at the sketch while I’m working on the finished painting helps me to make important alterations—such as a color change.
"Honeybee" by Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso
Sketch for Honeybee (oil on panel, 12×12)

The above sketch for Honeybee (oil, 12×12) enabled me to figure out what the values on the figure needed to be in order to create the illusion of a silhouette against the yellow sunset. I worked out flesh tones so that they were neither too bright nor too dark. I also determined that the sky behind the figure had to be relatively simple with no clouds or distracting shapes. I felt that the flowers in the basket made an interesting silhouette against the sky.

Study for "Honeybee" by Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso
Sketch for Honeybee (oil on panel, 12×12)

Above is the finished painting Honeybee, which you can compare to my color sketch. Note that in the finished painting, your eye is drawn more to the upper third of the work, specifically the basket of flowers and the face, which is the focal point. One adjustment that contributes to this is the development of the flowers, which, in the finished painting, sweep toward and over the figure’s head. I also adjusted the colors and values of the vegetables in the basket and the border of the robe. By making these more subdued, they compete less with the brighter colors of the face and sky.

Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso
is an award-winning New Jersey artist, who balances painting and teaching at the National Academy and the Manhattan branch of the Jewish Community Center. She’s represented by the Eleanor Ettinger Gallery in New York City. Visit her website at

Learm more about Gabriela Gonzalez Dellosso and her work in the May 2011 issue of The Artist’s Magazine, available at

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