This was done from a shot I took a couple months ago while walking through downtown Winston-Salem, NC. I'm very happy with this one. There are only a couple things I would change and they're pretty minor. It hits all the loose, impressionism notes I've been struggling with while keeping plenty of realism and detail -- another one on the road to loose realism.
I've started doing small sketches of scenes and subjects before trying them at larger sizes. This is a technique I've known for years but rarely used. When done right it really helps. You get a good sense of the subject, how the colors you think you want to use really work together and can see how your focal point relates to the rest of the image. When I finish a sketch I scan it and print it in color or copy it on a color copier and then make notes about changes, color usage and other things I want to remember when doing the larger painting. With this one, for instance, I made a note to include more of the scene on the left. In the sketch I had cropped it at the No Parking sign. That placement seemed to restrict the eye and made the image seem cluttered with all the sidewalk stuff. With some open space on the left of the sign the sidewalk seems more open.