Usually I start working by experimenting with the idea in different forms, lines and colors until I decide how the image should be. Obviously while working on the painting, the image is transforming and the final one might be very different from the original. In this case everything started from a photo of Sorrento which was sent to me by a friend (Fig.01).
While using this picture as a starting point, I enlarged the canvas around it, resulting in an image that was twice the initial size. My idea was to create an old fantasy image of an ocean coast city that is basking in the colors of the sunset. Using quick strokes I tried to get a feel for the main shapes of the city and after few hours of work I came up with the result I was striving for (Fig.02).
In images like this, most of the times I draw the sky firstbecause I think this is very important for the entire painting. I think that the sky sets the mood of the composition, so using the Gradient tool I laid the foundation for it and afterwards used the Soft brush to start to paint the clouds. To make them look more realistic I used real life photos, some my own, some from the internet image stocks. I took different pictures for clouds and I made changes, experimenting and transforming them using Layer Mode until I was satisfied with the result (Fig.03).
Getting to the main part, I brought the sky over to the main file and started looking for good references that I could use for the rest of the picture. This is the most monotonous, yet very important, part of work. I looked through over a thousand pictures both in my archive and on the internet. I picked several of them, knowing very well that though some would be useful in the work, many might not be. When I am picking out photo references I pay attention to the lighting and texture of the picture and it is not often that I can find ideal ones. I consider that it is better to use photos that don't have a defined border between shadows and light. I also try to make sure that the resolution for the fragments that I use is similar so the difference between textures is not obvious (Fig.04 - Fig.05).